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Cardinals pour it on in second half to beat Gresham 28-14

6A FOOTBALL - Lincoln travels to #2 Sheldon in the second round

Lincoln survived an early scare from visiting Gresham on Friday afternoon to collect a 28-14 win in the first round of the OSAA 6A football playoffs.

Trailing 14-6 late in the first half, Lincoln pulled even when QB Andrew Ellsworth got in on a 2-yard sneak. The Cardinals added the two-point conversion, lining up with a loaded backfield only to send QB Johnny Williams along around the left side. The play fooled the Gophers, as Williams went in untouched.

Gresham's offense sputtered throughout the second half, going three-and-out on its first possession and fumbling the ball away on its next try.

Lincoln took advantage when Williams got loose on a wild 28-yard TD scamper that saw him leave a pair of Gresham tacklers crumpled in the middle of the field.

The Gophers tried to answer when Devon Shields converted a 4th-and-1 play with a sneak through the middle, but the drive stalled at Lincoln's 32-yard line after Cardinals linebacker Wade Hare came up with a sack on another fourth-down play.

'They outplayed us up front, which is something we didn't expect,' Gresham coach Todd Nagel said. 'You have to give them credit. Lincoln just beat us.'

Gresham had one final chance with 6:21 on the clock, but was facing a long field after Lincoln punter Alex McPhee killed a ball at the 10-yard line.

The Gophers picked up three first downs to move the ball to midfield and were facing 3rd-and-1 when disaster hit. Nagel had called for a QB sneak on a silent count to catch the defense by surprise, but instead, one of the Gophers moved and the team was marched back 5 yards for a false start. That put Gresham into a throwing situation, and two incompletion passes killed the drive.

'Any time you have to go 90 yards it's going to be tough, and we just had too many mistakes tonight,' Nagel said.

Ellsworth added a final short touchdown run for the Cardinals in the final minute to finish off the win.

The Cardinals travel to #2-ranked Sheldon for next Friday's second round.

The Gophers moved ahead early when Shields hit tight end Spencer Kelley on a long out pattern to put the ball at the 2-yard line. Like they've done most of the season, Gresham handed the ball to junior tailback Devauntae Hoffman to finish the drive with a plunge through the middle.

Gresham's Micah Tolai returned an interception 40 yards to set up another first-quarter score. After stalling just outside the 20-yard line - no man's land in prep football too far away for a field goal and too close for a punt. So despite facing 4th-and-12, Nagel kept the offense on the field.

Shields took the snap, sidestepped some pressure and lofted a pass toward the back of the end zone where Marcus Martinez pulled it down between two defenders to stretch the lead to 14-6.

That would prove to be the Gophers final points of the day.