By Brian McKim
The Falls City Tigers, fresh off a disappointing loss at Fairbury last week, hosted the Lincoln Christian Crusaders last Friday night for homecoming. FC received the opening kick and began the drive at the 25. On second and 24, Collin Cook hit Chaydyn Butler down the right sideline to extend the drive. Then with 9:08 to play in the first, Alex Rathje went in from 14 yards out on the option to the left for the score to cap off the 75-yard drive. The Lukas Aldana kick made it 7-0 FC. The two teams traded possessions to end the first quarter with FC leading 7-0.
Lincoln Christian finished off a 65-yard drive with a seven-yard touchdown run to tie the game with 8:41 to play in the half. Falls City began the next drive on their own 29-yard line. After a 25-yard pass kept the drive alive, Cook kept the ball up the middle for the score to give FC a 14-7 lead with 5:22 to go in the half. Butler got an INT on the next LC possession but couldn’t capitalize and turned the ball over on downs at the Crusader 22-yard line. LC moved the ball down the field thanks to a personal foul call and scored an eight-yard touchdown to tie the game with :22 to go in the half. The two teams went into the locker room tied at 14.
The Tiger defense forced a three and out to begin the second half, and FC took over first and ten at their own 45 with 10:22 to play in the third. Rathje capped off a 55-yard drive with a one-yard plunge to give FC a 21-14 lead with 6:27 to play in the third. The Crusaders came right back though as the QB went 63-yards for the score to tie the game at 21 with 3:53 to go.
The fourth period began with FC facing a second and seven at the LC 22-yard line. On third and four from the 19, Cook kept the ball for the score to make it 28-21 with 11:28 to go in the game. The lead was short lived as Trent Lockard of LC took the kickoff 80 yards up the middle for the touchdown to tie the game at 28 with 11:28 to play. On the kickoff, Lincoln Christian squib kicked it and recovered at the Tiger 43-yard line. Less than two minutes later Alex Kock went in from 19-yards out to give the Crusaders their first lead of the game 35-28 with 9:32 to play.
After a three and out by FC, Lincoln Christian took over at their own 23 with 7:45 to go. However, a fumble recovery by Jaden Nolte gave the Tigers hope and the ball at the 22 with 7:41 to go. On fourth and five at the 17 Cook hit Cade Schawang for an 11-yard gain to extend the drive. Then on second and goal at the four Cook called his own number up middle for the game-tying score with 5:49 to play. Neither team could push any points across the rest of the way and the game headed to overtime, all knotted at 35.
On the first play of overtime, Rathje took the handoff going right for the 10-yard score to make it 42-35. Lincoln Christian had one last shot and at third and goal at the five put the ball on the turf, and Trey McAfee pounced on it to seal the win, 42-35.
When asked about the game-winning TD Rathje said, “Really on the O-line, I’ve got to trust them to do the job, and if they do good, I’m doing good. My success is 100 percent on the line. They pulled through the whole game. We have a great team and haven’t hit our full potential yet; we’re getting there. We have to keep improving, keep grinding.”
For the game, Rathje led the ground attack with 30 carries for 137 yards and two TD’s . Cook added 124 yards on 20 touches and three scores. He also completed 6-11 passes for 95 yards and a score. Butler had two catches for 79 yards, and Schawang added three grabs for 22 yards. McAfee, on top of the fumble recovery to end the game, had eight tackles, two for losses. Schawang had eight stops, and Cook added six, including three for losses.
“I thought they responded really well in the face of adversity and continued to fight. As far as preparing for AG, more of the same. We strive to get better every day in practice,” said Coach Fritz.
Next week the (3-2) Tigers will hit the road to take on the (4-1) Ashland-Greenwood Bluejays in Ashland. The Bluejays only loss came last week at Auburn 19-7.