LINCOLN -- Friday's football showdown between Lincoln (8-2, 5-2 4A-1) and Prairie Grove (5-5, 4-3 4A-1) became an offensive showcase won by Lincoln, 59-48, to conclude the 4A-1 Conference schedule.
The teams combined for more than 1,100 yards of offense, but Lincoln hungered for a win.
"It's been a few years since Lincoln's beat Prairie Grove, the numbers are crazy -- everyone's heard anywhere from 19 to 25 years," said Lincoln senior quarterback Caleb Lloyd. "To go out there and beat them in a game like this where it was a definite offensive showdown, we tried on defense, we tried on every aspect of the ball, but our offense just showed out."
Lloyd hit on 24-of-31 passes for 386 yards and 4 touchdowns without an interception. He ran 13 times for 87 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Confusion exists because Lincoln and Prairie Grove have not played every year. When the Wolves belonged to the 3A-1 Conference while Prairie Grove was a member of the 4A-1, the schools did not compete in football from 2008-2011. The series resumed with the Wolves moving into the 4A-1 in 2012.
Lincoln led 20-7 at the end of the first quarter, then Prairie Grove forced a turnover on downs and scored a touchdown, followed by another Prairie Grove touchdown when Lincoln fumbled the ensuing kickoff; then yet another (third-straight) Prairie Grove touchdown set up by blocking a Lincoln punt.
All of a sudden Prairie Grove was ahead, 28-20.
The game got even more wild -- Lincoln came back to tie score, 28-28; then Prairie Grove scored to go ahead, 35-28, with 36.7 seconds to go before halftime.
"That's the most points we scored this year in a game, but they scored fast," said Prairie Grove coach Danny Abshier. "We didn't score quite as fast, but anyway it's a good ballgame. They had a good plan. They executed well. We executed pretty good, too. It was a great game. That's what football is about."
Lincoln answered in lightening-quick fashion, scoring with 14.9 seconds left in the first half on a 3-play, 67-yard drive.
Lloyd said the team mindset propelled the Wolves through adversity enabling them to stick to the task at hand.
"It was definitely get back at them, we were not losing this game," Lloyd said. "Us seniors talked about it. We were not losing to Prairie Grove no matter what it took. If we had to give it all we had, that's what we did.
At halftime, Prairie Grove led, 35-34, because Lincoln's extra-point kick was blocked.
Third quarter featured 211 yards of offense and three touchdowns by Lincoln and one by Prairie Grove.
In an action-packed contest showcasing athleticism and will to win by both teams one of the most spectacular feats was a catch made by Lincoln receiver Sterling Morphis.
The 35-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Caleb Lloyd (24-of-31, 386 yards, 4 touchdowns) put the Wolves ahead for good at the 4:55 mark of the third quarter. Morphis made a leaping grab to give Lincoln a 46-40 lead.
Lloyd said he deliberately put the ball where only Morphis could catch it.
"I Know Sterling plays basketball, he can get up," Lloyd said. "I just knew he could get over the top of that guy."
Morphis sold the play by faking an inside move, then elevated to make the catch.
"The corner bit hard on the slant and I mistimed the jump a little bit, I caught it on the way down," Morphis said. "We needed that, too. We needed momentum."
Lloyd was on the turf and didn't see the end result, but the roar of the crowd indicated touchdown.
"I didn't really get to see the catch, I took a hit right after I threw it, but I have absolute trust in Morphis to come down with any ball I throw to him," Lloyd said.
Lincoln coach Don Harrison is thrilled with the offensive production.
"Sterling Morphis had a huge night, I'm so excited for him," Harrison said. "And Cam Brown had a big night."
Morphis had 172 yards on 7 catches, including 4 touchdowns. Tailback Cam Brown racked up 173 rushing yards on 21 carries with 3 receptions for 42 yards. Noe Avellaneda added 8 catches for 121 yards; Daytin Davis had 3 for 29 and Levi Wright 3 for 22.
Both teams scored in the fourth quarter. With Lincoln leading 59-48, Prairie Grove drove to Lincoln's 15 only to get intercepted by Morphis.
Lincoln looked like they might run out the clock or score, but Lloyd had the ball pop out of his hands. Prairie Grove's Jared Harger caught it out of the air and ran the ball back 65 yards for what looked like a touchdown with 36.1 seconds remaining in the game.
Fans were thinking if Prairie Grove goes for two points on the conversion and gets an onside kick, they might get close enough to kick a field goal and send the game into overtime -- but the theatrics ended because of a penalty on Prairie Grove.
The Tigers still had the ball, and an outside chance -- albeit a long shot, with 36.1 seconds left and 77 yards away from the end zone. Prairie Grove piled up 547 yards of total offense and reached Lincoln's 24 when time expired.
Harrison appreciated the hometown support.
"This was the best our stands have ever been," Harrison said. "I've been here four years. This is the biggest turnout I think in our community in a long time. They were so loud, the bells and all the noise-makers and the kids in the stands, as a player when you look up there and people are doing that; and everybody, and there's not a seat to be found up there, people all along the fence and every time you score it's just an eruption of noise, as a kid that just fills your heart and makes you play so much better. Man, we needed it, and this community, I think, felt that this was a chance to beat these guys, and 19 games-in-a-row, 25 years since they beat them, so it's huge and we did it."
LINCOLN 59, PRAIRIE GROVE 48
Lincoln^20^14^18^7^--^59Sports on 11/07/2018
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