LINCOLN — Lincoln East connected on big pass plays in the second quarter Friday night and Lincoln Southeast misfired, giving the Spartans their sixth win of the season, 21-10.
It was East’s first win over Southeast since 2008. “It was a long time coming,” said East coach John Gingery.
Southeast seemed ready to take command in the first quarter when its first two drives racked up six first downs and reached deep into East territory. But the Knights settled for a 36-yard field goal and trailed at halftime 14-3.
East ran only seven offensive plays in the first quarter, with the first drive ending in an interception and the second with a punt after gaining only 1 yard.
But the Spartan defense set the tone by keeping the Knights out of the end zone even though they moved the ball, Gingery said.
“That was huge,” he said.
Then the rest of the first half turned big for the Spartans when quarterback Shane Watteyne found 6-foot-4 receiver Bryan Reimers alone near the goal line — twice.
The first score was a 30-yard strike that Reimers took at the 6-yard line and stepped his way untouched into the end zone. The second was a 30-yarder that Reimers took right at the goal line.
“Honestly, I think they had a breakdown in coverage,” said Reimers, who celebrated on the field after the win while wearing a walking boot. He was injured attempting another TD reception in the third quarter.
That play resulted in an interference call and led to East’s third touchdown, a 2-yard run up the middle by Mason Tyrrell.
“They made some big plays in the passing game, and we didn’t,” said Southeast coach Ryan Gottula. “That was the difference in the game.”
Statistics tell a story of a hard-fought game. Southeast had 19 first downs to 14 for East and outyarded the Spartans in rushing, 174 to 168, and in passing, 146 to 123.
“We’ve got to show up to play every week,” Gottula said. “We’ve played a lot of close games, and we’ve got to figure out how to win the close ones. But the guys don’t quit. You could see that.”
Gingery said the same thing about his players. “I told them at halftime, the game’s not over.”
Hunter Johnson led Southeast’s rushing attack with 91 yards while quarterback Luke Gifford, a Nebraska recruit, had 78.
The Spartans’ Jesse Johnson led all rushers with 123 yards, including a 41-yarder which took him from being hemmed in on one side of the field to an open field on the far side.
Southeast served notice at the start of the second half that it was in it for the long haul. A fake punt on a fourth-and-1 play gained three yards on the opening drive of the half.
On the next play, Gifford hit receiver Logan Beebe on a crossing route for a 36-yard score to tighten the game to 14-10.
But East gained four first downs on its next possession to lead to Tyrrell’s touchdown.
With about six minutes to go, Southeast stopped East on four dives by Tyrrell from the 8-yard line. The final stop was at the 1, where the Knights’ attempt at a final comeback started and then fizzled with a punt from the 8.
Lincoln East (6-1) ............................ 0 14 7 0—21
At Lincoln Southeast (3-4) ............................ 3 0 7 0—10
SE: Logan Keitges 36 field goal.
East: Bryan Reimers 41 pass from Shane Watteyne. (Sam Kohler kick).
East: Reimers 30 pass from Watteyne. (Kohler kick).
SE: Logan Beebe, 36 pass from Luke Gifford. (Logan Keitges kick).
East: Mason Tyrrell, 2 run. (Kohler kick).