Nick Pierce, Correspondent
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. (franchisesportsonline.net) – After losing a 39-37 barn burner to Rickards last week, the Lincoln Trojans came out on top in a defensive struggle Friday night, beating rival Chiles 17-14.
Both teams struggled offensively in the first half. Lincoln especially, as the Trojans only accounted for two first downs through two quarters of play. Chiles had a little more success and had three drives into Trojan territory.
Neither team scored until the final 1:54 of the first quarter, when Marquel Pittman returned a deep punt for a Trojan touchdown. Special teams were a double-edged sword for Lincoln, though, as the Trojans muffed three punts on the night, two being in the first half.
While Lincoln was able to recover their first muffed punt, a Chiles defender was able to fall on their second, setting up the Timberwolves at the Trojan 11-yard line midway through the second quarter. After two offensive penalties backed Chiles all the way to the 26, quarterback Avery Thomas hit Kris Reed for a 20-yard strike that set up the Timberwolves for fourth and goal at the 6. Timberwolves coach Gharett John called for some trickery on the ensuing play, but Jake Meyer’s fake field-goal pass attempt was knocked down in the end zone.
Chiles was able to force a three-and-out on the next Lincoln possession, forcing Caleb Hayes to punt out of his own end zone. Even after a solid punt, Chiles was able to start the drive at the Trojan 48.
Timberwolves running back Kris Reed broke free for an 18-yard rush to start off the resulting drive. Two plays later, he carried the ball again, this time into the end zone for a 26-yard Touchdown.
The next Lincoln drive faltered again, as Hayes was forced to punt. But the Trojan defense would come up huge on the ensuing Chiles possession, as Tre’jan Huggins sack-stripped Thomas on third down. The Trojans recovered at the Timberwolves 26, setting up Beto Aguirre to kick a field goal. This gave Lincoln a 10-7 lead going into the half.
After stalling Chiles’ opening drive of the second half, Lincoln muffed another punt. Chiles recovered and Shane Sanders dove up the middle for a 20 yard-touchdown on the first play of the ensuing drive, giving the Timberwolves their first lead of the night.
Lincoln responded by throwing the ball a lot more. Quarterback Chris Brimm had 10 of his 16 pass attempts in the second half for 65 of his 103 yards. He connected with tall receiver Malik Gary on third and goal from the nine for a touchdown at the end of the third quarter, giving the Trojans the lead for good.
“We knew they couldn’t cover our guys in space,” said Lincoln coach Yusuf Shakir. “We felt like we were better athletes on the edge. We just wanted to get our guys in space and loosen some of those things up.”
Chiles’ best scoring opportunity in the 4th quarter came after Reed returned an interception to the Trojan 40. Lincoln’s defense remained strong, though, forcing three straight incompletions by Thomas and a three and out.
“We had a kick return for a touchdown and ended up winning by a field goal, so that’s the difference,” said Shakir. “But we gave them both their points on short drives. We muffed one punt which gave them a short field, but they didn’t end up scoring. The next punt we muffed they turned around and scored, so really, if we just secure the ball, they get zero points.”
Lincoln plays Leon next Friday at Gene Cox Stadium. Chiles travels to face Mosley.