WEST GROVE, Pa. – Behind a 19-point third quarter, the Lincoln University football team won its first Homecoming since the return of football in 2008, as the Lions knocked off Chowan, 31-15, on Saturday afternoon in a CIAA Northern Division showdown at Avon Grove High School.
The Lions (2-4 overall, 2-2 CIAA) opened the game with a big kickoff return by Lance Rutledge to set up Lincoln at the Chowan 25-yard line. Four plays later, Gerald Swain scored on a 2-yard touchdown up the middle to give the Lions a 6-0 advantage with 13:22 remaining in the opening quarter.
“We always prepare to start off any game with that type of kickoff,” Lincoln head coach O.J. Abanishe said. “We have been preaching all week to play four quarters. We got another huge game from Kyle Jaski, who has been doing that all season for us.”
The Hawks (1-5, 0-4) answered the Lincoln scoring drive by marching 55 yards in 10 plays as Robert Holland caught a 2-yard pass by Jordan Roby to give Chowan a 7-6 lead with 4:56 left.
Lincoln ended the opening quarter by driving 91 yards in 11 plays, capped by Doug Cook connecting with Matthew Coston for a 10-yard touchdown pass to give the Lions a 12-7 advantage. After a timeout, Lincoln went for the 2-point conversion, but Anthony Wilson couldn’t hold on to the Cook pass to keep the game at 12-7 with 18 seconds remaining.
With the slim margin to start the second half, the Lions rattled off 19 straight points in the third quarter.
“During halftime, we noticed that they were laying around and the guys put the pressure on themselves not to let this lead go and finish the game out,” Abanishe said. “Our offense gets better as the season goes on.”
After kicking off to start the second half, the Lions forced a Hawks punt and started their drive at the Lincoln 20. The Lions went 80 yards in nine plays as Cook, who had 31 yards rushing on nine carries, scored on a 1-yard run to give the Lions a 18-7 lead with 10:35 remaining in the third.
On Chowan’s next possession, Daron Jones picked off Roby and went 51 yards down the right sideline for the score. For Jones, it was his third interception return of the season and extended the advantage to 25-7 with 9:29 left.
“It feels good to have confidence knowing we can hang with anyone,” Jones said. “It’s good to know that my play pretty much was the dagger to put the game away. We talk to the offense all the time, and as long as they do their part, we will follow. It feels good to have the alums come out to see a victory.”
Lincoln’s defense continued to be the solid foundation in the third quarter as Tim Green sacked Roby, forcing a fumble and the Lions recovered on the Hawks’ 31. Four players later, Cook ran 12 yards for his second touchdown run of the afternoon to give Lincoln a controlling, 31-7, lead with 8:24 left in the quarter.
Chowan answered the final Lincoln scoring drive by going 61 yards in three plays as Ryan Simpson connected with Antjuan Randall for a 20-yard score, cutting the deficit to 31-15, but it wasn’t enough as Lincoln won its 2011 Homecoming game.
“We are starting to hit on all cylinders,” Cook said. “We are cutting down on our mistakes and coach had a good game plan. I am happy that I could help get Lincoln its first Homecoming win since football came back. I feel like I am a part of something that’s going to be very special in the very near future.”
The freshman quarterback was 17-of-31 passing for 198 yards. Laquan Williams had 42 yards on 2-of-3 passing as the Lions racked up 240 yards in the air and 336 total yards. Lincoln ran the ball 42 times for 96 yards – the most total rushing yards this season.
“It feels good to show the CIAA that we are a team to compete with,” Coston said. “I am glad I can do my part in this offense and help Lincoln get this Homecoming victory. It was good to see both Laquan and Doug lead us to the win.”
Coston led all Lincoln receivers with five catches for 86 yards, while Anthony Wilson had 52 yards on three catches.
The Lions defense surrendered just 155 total yards of offense to Chowan – the best output this season. Lincoln recorded 6.5 sacks for a loss of 43 yards.
Jones led all Lincoln players defensively with 10 total tackles, including a pair of sacks for a loss of five yards. Gerald Foster and Brandon McElwee each had eight and seven tackles, respectively.
Roby was 10-of-21 passing for 75 yards and one interception. Simpson added 60 yards on 5-of-11 passing. Adrian Ferns finished with 13 carries for 49 yards and Holland had five catches for 38 yards.
James Brown led the Hawks on defense with eight tackles, while DaKorio DeSamme had 7.5.
Lincoln, which is in the middle of a four-game homestand, will play under the lights during “Friday Night Lights” as the Lions take on Bowie State, 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 14 at Avon Grove High School.