Caden Kotter did a little bit of everything for Lincoln on Friday.
Not only did the senior have a big receiving game, but he also broke off a long touchdown run and hauled in an interception as the Alices rolled over Boonville, 52-9, in their home and Big Eight Conference opener at Inman Field.
Kotter finished with four catches for 108 yards and a touchdown to go with his 66-yard scoring run, which came in the game-deciding third quarter. Graham Toole completed 5-of-8 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown, and he rushed for 69 yards on 10 carries. Raekwon Haislip added 61 rushing yards on eight touches.
It was the second straight stellar game for the Lincoln defense too. The Alices (2-0, 1-0 Big Eight) limited the Pioneers (1-1, overall and Big Eight) to 193 yards, holding their second straight opponent under 200 yards.
"We've been preaching to these kids what they need to do defensively," Lincoln coach Levi Salters said. "The tackles have to hold their gaps, the ends have to contain, and the
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linebackers are supposed to play downhill and meet the ball at the line of scrimmage. The kids are buying into it, they're playing downhill, and it's really fun to watch."
Lincoln struggled to make extra points all night and led 24-7 at halftime on the strength of four first-half touchdowns, but the Pioneers were still within striking distance. The Alices made sure to put an end to any thought of a comeback early in the third quarter.
Kotter got things started on the first play of the second half as he took a jet sweep 66 yards for the score with 11:43 to play in the period. Following a defensive stop, the Alices needed just two plays to score again. Toole found Kotter for an 18-yard gain, then Toole got loose for a 31-yard run to make it 37-7 with 8:29 left in the third quarter.
"We ran a jet sweep in the first half to see how they adjusted, and they didn't adjust how we expected. They keyed on Toole. So we knew we'd come back to it. We got the ball in the hands of our fastest kid, and if Kotter gets a seam, he's gone," Salters said. "We had those first three plays of the second half scripted, and it worked out pretty well.
"Kotter's a heck of a player. Everyone knows he's a threat on offense, and he showed tonight that he could be a threat on defense as well."
Boonville fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Emmanuel Smith scooped it up and ran it in for the score.
"You couldn't ask for a better kid to get a touchdown," Salters said. "He didn't play anything last year because of an injury, and he's worked so hard to get back. It's really cool that he got a chance to score."
Lincoln's final tally came with 2:29 left in the third, when Evan Combs connected with Daniel Miller from 19 yards out. Spencer Corrona ran in the bad snap for a 2-point conversion, and Lincoln led, 52-7. The Pioneers got their final points on a Lincoln safety, when a bad snap went through the end zone.
Lincoln never trailed as a 39-yard pass from Toole to Corrona, in which Corrona broke several tackles, set up the Alices' first touchdown, a 5-yard run by Colton McCrary on a jet sweep at the 4:58 mark of the opening period. Lincoln needed just one play on its next drive to make it, 12-0, as Toole connected with Kotter on a 61-yard scoring strike with 2:06 showing in the first quarter.
Following a trio of punts, the Alices made it 18-0 with their best drive of the game. Lincoln ran nearly five minutes off the clock while putting together a 10-play drive. Toole punched it in from a yard away with 4:48 to go in the half.
The Alices were in the driver's seat before a fumble set up the Pioneers at Lincoln's 27 with 2:16 remaining. Boonville quickly scored on a 31-yard pass from Luke Conner to Blake Rinehart, but with only a minute remaining, the Alices still had time to respond. Kotter returned the ensuing kickoff 39 yards across midfield to Boonville's 42. Eli Malone took a pitch from Toole 31 yards down the sideline to extend Lincoln's lead, 24-7, with 24 ticks left, and that lead stuck until halftime.
The Pioneers played without starting quarterback Jackson Phillips, who suffered a leg injury in last week's game. Conner, normally the running back, played quarterback for most of the game and rushed for 52 yards on 12 carries while completing 5-of-10 passes for 63 yards.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Boonville |0-7-0-2 -- 9
Lincoln |12-12-28-0 -- 52
L -- Colton McCrary 5 run (kick missed) 4:58 1st qtr.
L -- Caden Kotter 61 pass from Graham Toole (pass failed) 2:06 1st qtr.
L -- Toole 1 run (pass failed) 4:48 2nd qtr.
B -- Blake Rinehart 31 pass from Luke Conner (Dean Ewin kick) 1:00 2nd qtr.
L -- Eli Malone 31 run (kick blocked) :24 2nd qtr.
L -- Kotter 66 run (kick blocked) 11:43 3rd qtr.
L -- Toole 31 run (Brayton Scott kick) 8:29 3rd qtr.
L -- Emmanuel Smith 8 fumble recovery (Scott kick) 8:17 3rd qtr.
L -- Daniel Miller 19 pass from Evan Combs (Spencer Corrona run) 2:29 3rd qtr.
B -- Safety, Lincoln snap out of the end zone, 7:30 4th qtr.