If there was an exorbitant amount of requests for pain relief medicine at local pharmacies this past weekend, it might have had something to do with Friday night’s high school playoff football game between Lincoln and Northeast at Charles Martin Memorial Stadium.
Sprained ankles. Wrenched knees. Hip contusions.
Even a broken tooth.
By the time the last of the wounded were attended to by respective team trainers, Northeast had emerged triumphant, 39-22. The victory over the Railsplitters (4-5) in the first round of the Public League AAAA playoffs catapulted the third-seed Vikings (4-5) to a semifinal battle with second-seeded George Washington (3:30 p.m., Saturday, Northeast High School).
“I’m sore,” said Northeast junior Asa Manley. “I think we’re all pretty sore. That was a battle from the beginning to the end.”
Manley was the kingpin offensively. His 19 carries produced 116 yards and three touchdowns, not to mention several body impressions on bruised Lincoln tacklers.
“I try to run hard,” Manley said. “Every play, that’s what I need to do. I know they’re going to do everything to get me down, so I just stay low and keep driving my legs ”
Manley was quick to rave about his offensive line that helped carve out 205 rushing yards and six touchdown runs. On defense, Manley played cornerback and snared one of Northeast’s two interceptions (senior Markee Moses had the other) thrown by Lincoln quarterback Devon Thompkins.
The Vikings’ defense hounded Lincoln’s talented, 6-foot-4 senior all night long, but Thompkins was still able to complete seven of 16 passes for a career-high 157 yards and two touchdowns.
However, Thompkins was unable to escape the clutches of sack-happy junior Gladimir Paul (two) and seniors Faith Giddings and Brian Green (one each). All told, Northeast’s defense caused an astonishing 13 plays that netted negative yardage.
“Their defensive line is very good,” said Thompkins, visibly exhausted while standing outside a quiet Lincoln locker room. “They made us work for everything we got.”
The Vikings turned a 21-6 lead at halftime into a comfortable 33-6 cushion with 4:13 remaining in the third quarter. The Railsplitters countered with two quick scoring strikes of 68 and 17 yards from the same combination of Thompkins to junior Travon Williams, and a pair of two-point conversion runs by Thompkins to trim their deficit to 33-22 with 11:02 left in regulation.
Undaunted, Northeast engineered a 12-play, 66-yard drive that eroded 6 minutes and 16 seconds off the clock — punctuated by Manley’s fourth-down, 1-yard plunge into the end zone. With only 4:46 to work with and in total desperation mode, Lincoln succumbed to the inevitable.
“We fought hard, but we couldn’t do a lot of little things that ended up adding up,” said Lincoln coach Ed McGettigan, classy in defeat. “They’re a hard-hitting team; probably the most physical team we’ve played all year.”
Manley said the Vikings had “the look that you want to see” before and during the game.
“We knew we had to stay focused,” Manley said. “That’s the main thing. We had to use our focus to play with a lot of energy and stay aggressive. That was the big thing. Our linemen were very aggressive. Without that, there’s no way I could have run for yards. It all started with them.”
Manley insisted that Northeast was not concerned by its ominous start.
On the first play from scrimmage, an empty pitch to the backfield resulted in a 16-yard loss and a turnover that was recovered by Lincoln linebacker Taylor Gaines at the Northeast 24-yard line.
On the very next play, Lincoln junior Damarkus Jones busted through the line for a 24-yard touchdown jaunt, and the Railsplitters led, 6-0, only 28 seconds into the contest.
That would be Lincoln’s only lead, as Northeast would then score touchdowns on each of its next five possessions.
“We were OK,” Manley said. “No one put his head down. We stayed aggressive. We played as a team. No use to get too upset about one bad play. There was a lot of football left.” ••