CLAFLIN — In a game that saw a combined 122 points light up the scoreboard, it was fitting that a defensive play be the difference maker.
With 1:22 remaining on the clock, the Central Plains High School football team saw Lincoln quarterback Dayton Walter complete his seventh and final touchdown pass of the game, this one a 40-yard catch-and-run to Sean Ussrey.
Still holding to a 62-60 lead that would be the final score, defensive lineman Joe Barton was able to put pressure on Walter, forcing an incomplete pass to preserve the modest lead.
“That was huge,” Oilers head coach Chris Steiner said. “All night long, we were fighting. We were there, but we were just not there. We were just a step away most of the night. Joe stepped up big there, and got us a big play.”
The Oilers improve to 6-1 overall, 5-0 in Eight-Man Division-I district play.
Lincoln jumped ahead early and had a 16-0 lead early in the second quarter.
But Benn Kirmer, who had six rushing touchdowns in the game, broke off 51- and 46-yard scores to close the gap to 24-14. Kirmer finished the game with 303 rushing yards, leaving him at 1,075 rushing yards this season.
“It’s going amazing,” Kirmer said of the season. “We came together just like one team, just like there was no consolidation. All of them yards, I have to give to my line. I can’t do it without them. They start it for me, and I just finish it.
“(The early touchdowns) just bring everybody up. If we didn’t have them, then everybody would just come up flat.”
Kirmer boosted his team’s morale even further by blocking a punt late in the second quarter, resulting in a Nick Schepmann 5-yard touchdown.
The Oilers took the lead for the first time in the game in the third quarter on a 1-yard dive into the end zone by Dylan Prosser.
“We knew that some of those big plays would be there, but I told my running backs that we needed to be patient this week,” Steiner said. “We had to be patient this week because they score so fast. I wanted to maintain time of possession.
“Late in the game, our other running backs kind of took over. You know, Prosser took over in the second half running the dive. Then Skyler Turner came in to relieve Benn, because Benn was getting worn out.”
After three lead changes, Central Plains held a 46-38 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Lincoln tied the game with another pass from Walter, this time a 44-yard bomb to Alex Jackson. Walter completed 23 of 43 passes for 375 yards.
Kirmer scored two touchdowns in the final quarter, and Walter threw two more passing touchdowns, leading to the failed two-point conversion that gave the Oilers the win.
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Central Plains 62, Lincoln 60
Lincoln 8 16 14 22 — 60
Central Plains 0 20 26 16 — 62
Lincoln — Jackson 21 pass from Walter (Ussrey run)
Lincoln — Ussrey 39 pass from Walter (Schroeder pass from Walter)
Central Plains — Kirmer 51 run (run fail)
Lincoln — Ussrey 1 run (Jackson pass from Walter)
Central Plains — Kirmer 46 run (Kirmer run)
Central Plains — Schepmann 5 run (pass fail)
Central Plains — Prosser 1 run (Prosser run)
Lincoln — Jackson 39 pass from Walter (pass fail)
Central Plains — Kirmer 59 run (pass fail)
Central Plains — Kirmer 60 run (run fail)
Lincoln — Ussrey 55 pass from Walter (Walter run)
Central Plains — Turner 12 run (run fail)
Lincoln — Jackson 44 pass from Walter (Ussrey run)
Central Plains — Kirmer 15 run (Stueder pass from Steiner)
Lincoln — Jackson 5 pass from Walter (Walter run)
Central Plains — Kirmer 5 run (Steiner run)
Lincoln — Ussrey 40 pass from Walter (pass fail)