LINCOLN — Lincoln raced out to its third win of the season, beating No. 5 Osceola 50-15 on Friday.
The Cardinals’ Boone Kroenke was 8 of 13 passing for 218 yards and four touchdowns. He also threw for three two-point conversions and ran for another.
“Boone, he’s a heck of an athlete,” said Lincoln coach Danny Morrison. “He made plays when plays weren’t there and that’s kind of what we expect from him.”
Kroenke and Mason Sanders connected for a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter. The first came on the heels of a 47-yard pass to Blake Roberts to put the Cardinals deep in Osceola territory after the Indians bit on a Lincoln play-fake and Kroenke rolled to his right.
“We ran Heath (Renno) across and he ran good the first play and then they really bit on the play-action,” Kroenke said. “Their corners came up, the safety came up too which is really good, and I just threw it over top for a long play.”
Sanders reeled in the 19-yard pass for the score three plays later.
Later in the half after a long punt return set the Cardinals up at the Osceola 35, Sanders beat his defender for a 32-yard touchdown.
Early in the second quarter, Cody Gregory put Lincoln ahead 22-6 with a punt return.
With 1:24 to play in the half, a fumble recovery set Lincoln up at the Osceola 25 and Kroenke hit Blake Roberts in the end zone.
Sanders caught his third touchdown of the game on the Cardinals’ first drive of the third quarter, taking a 38-9 lead.
“Mason runs his routes really sharp,” Kroenke said. “He’s a big, tall, lanky target and he can jump out of the gym.”
Lincoln then made it 44-9 with a 12-play, 65-yard drive which took more than six minutes and was capped off by a 10-yard Kroenke run.
Lincoln added another score on its next drive as Derek Stephens spun his way through several Osceola defenders for a 38-yard touchdown run.
Other than the two big scoring plays, the Lincoln defense held Osceola in check. The Cardinals defensive line kept pressure on the quarterback, forcing him to throw several passes on the run which fell incomplete.
“We knew they were going to run five-wide and we like to put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, that’s part of our game With them going five wide on us, it was really tough and we told our D-line, ‘you guys are going to have to step up and you’re going to have to get pressure on the quarterback because we’re not going to be able to bring the outsides.’ They did a fantastic job of it.”
Osceola broke off a long play on its first drive as Eli Mitchell ran 78 yards for a touchdown to cut the Lincoln lead to 8-6. However, the next three Indians possessions gained a total of four yards.
“We knew we’d be able to hold them if we just played our game,” Morrison said. “It ended up that we let one break loose on us and we kind of tightened down the hatches. It was a good wake up call for us to realize that’s not the team we are.”
Osceola eventually put a sustained drive together in the second quarter and kicked a field goal.
In the third quarter, the Indians moved the ball into Lincoln territory, but fumbled. Lincoln fumbled the ball back on the next play, setting Osceola up in Cardinals territory, but intense pressure from the Lincoln defensive line moved the Indians backward on the drive and they soon turned it over on downs.
Osceola’s final score of the game came on a 67-yard pass with 1:34 left in the fourth.
Eric Ingles can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @Eric_Ingles