It was one of the largest crowds in decades at historic Lincoln Bowl and the Lincoln faithful had to stay until the joyful end as Jusstis Warren and Jeremy Lukosh sacked O'Dea quarterback Nathan West as time expired, snuffing any hope for a Fighting Irish comeback miracle.
The 35-30 Lincoln (11-0) victory moves the Abes on to the quarterfinals of the 3A state football tournament, but they won't be leaving town. Lincoln Bowl will host its second state playoff game in a row as the Abes welcome 2nd-ranked Eastside Catholic (10-1).
Lincoln's Jordan Kitna completed 15 of 22 pass attempts for 267 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. Lincoln's Jayson Williams caught four passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. His 74-yard reception on the first drive of the game set-up the Abes first touchdown.
Lincoln took a 21-7 lead into the locker room at halftime. Third-ranked O'Dea (9-2) fumbled the ensuing kick-off and Lincoln's Zantease Maddox recovered the ball at the 38-yard line. On the first play, Kitna hit receiver Dehonta Hayes on a quick swing pass and Hayes raced up the sidelines through and past O'Dea defenders. Lincoln led 28-7 just 16 seconds into the third quarter.
O'Dea capitalized on a couple of Kitna interceptions by scoring a touchdown and field goal, trimming the Abes' lead to 28-17.
Lincoln answered with a 12-play, 80 yard touchdown drive capped by a Kitna touchdown pass to receiver Alvin Johnson for a 35-17 Lincoln advantage with just over 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The Fighting Irish struck back quickly on the second play of the next possession. O'Dea running back Myles Gaskin took a pitch and lofted a long pass down the sideline to a wide-open Mikel Owes, who raced to the end zone untouched for the 67-yard touchdown. Lincoln's lead was down to 35-24 with one second left in the third quarter.
Williams fumbled the ball at the nine-yard line on the following kick-off and O'Dea punched the ball across the goal line three plays later on a three-yard run by Gaskin. O'Dea went for two and West was sacked. Lincoln led 35-30 with 11:12 left in the game.
With 6:16 remaining in the game, Lincoln took over possession at their own 45-yard line. The Abes rattled-off 12 plays, ending with a turnover on downs at the O'Dea five-yard line. O'dea took over with just 19.2 seconds remaining in the game and 95 yards to score again.
O'Dea's West scrambled up the sideline for a 22-yard gain to the 27 yard line and 10.8 seconds left on the clock. On the next snap, west was gobbled-up by Warren and Lukosh for a 2-yard loss and that was the ballgame.
Lincoln out-gained O'Dea 387 yards to 312 yards. Johnson finished with a pair of touchdown receptions and Tony Archie added a score as well.
The 35 Lincoln points was the most points scored against O'Dea the entire season. The Fighting Irish came into the game surrendering an average of just 6 points a game.
Lincoln will host Eastside Catholic next Friday or Saturday at Lincoln Bowl. We will announce date and time as soon as they become available.