URBANA — Every time Lincoln tried to keep Friday’s Class 1, District 4 title game at Skyline close, the Cardinals would commit a penalty to halt a drive or Skyline would get big plays to extend its lead.
In the end, Skyline was able to keep pulling away and win 42-8 to advance to the state quarterfinals.
Down 28-8 at the break, Lincoln’s Blake Roberts intercepted a pass to end Skyline’s first drive of the second half that got to the 26-yard line.
Roberts was able to return it for good field position, but a penalty on the return forced Lincoln to start the drive on its own seven-yard line.
Another penalty was a factor in stopping what ended up being a 16-play drive.
On a third-and-7, Boone Kroenke completed a pass to Trevor Kroenke that would have given the Cardinals a first down, but Trevor Kroenke was called for being an ineligible receiver on the play.
“They said he was covered up,” said Lincoln coach Danny Morrison. “I’ll have to go back on film and look at it. We never run a formation where we have our receivers covered up and being Week 12, I wouldn’t think they’d be doing that.”
An incomplete pass on the next play ended the drive on downs.
The Tigers would score in nine plays on the ensuing drive to take a 35-8 lead in the final minute of the third quarter.
Skyline quarterback Dylan Mountain fumbled the ball before crossing the goal line, but was able to recover in the end zone for the score.
Chipper Berry added a seven-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and a PAT finished off the scoring for the night.
Lincoln punted on its first three possessions of the game and Skyline marched right down the field for three touchdowns to take a 21-0 early in the second quarter.
A quarterback keeper by Mountain on Skyline’s first offensive play of the game went for 13 yards and he later completed a 19-yard pass to set the Tigers up at the 12-yard line.
Mountain then ran up the middle for an easy touchdown and his two-point conversion made it 8-0 with 6:39 remaining in the first quarter.
“We gave him a lot of space,” Morrison said. “Our tackling was not on. We did a lot of ankle biting (Friday), not good form tackling.”
It only took four plays for Skyline to score its second touchdown. A 33-yard run by Mountain and a 22-yard completion two plays later got the Tigers to the two-yard line when Berry ran it in for the score to give the Tigers a 14-0 lead with 3:35 remaining in the first quarter.
Berry scored again on Skyline’s third possession, this time from 19 yards out on the first play of the second quarter. A PAT gave Skyline a 21-0 lead.
The Cardinals finally started getting some momentum in the second quarter.
Heath Renno returned the ensuing kickoff all the way to the Skyline 22-yard line. Boone Kroenke ended up capping off that drive by powering his way through a Skyline player at the goal line for a four-yard score.
The two-point conversion made it 21-8 with 9:34 remaining in the first half.
Mountain added a 19-yard touchdown run on the ensuing drive to put Skyline up 28-8.
The Cardinals were able to drive down the field on their next drive thanks to a 38-yard run and a 12-yard run by Johnson, but the drive ended on downs only six yards from the end zone.
On that drive, Boone Kroenke ran for a five-yard touchdown on a third-and-goal, but it was called back for holding. Boone Kroenke completed a pass to Roberts two plays later but he was stopped at the six-yard line.
“It’s like we couldn’t get any momentum going and it didn’t help that our defense wasn’t stepping up to the plate either,” Morrison said.
The Cardinals end their season with an 11-1 record.
“These guys are fighters, Morrison said. “We get out-sized by every team we play, but it doesn’t matter. They’ve got so much heart.”
Jason Strickland can be reached at 660-530-0147 or on Twitter @J_Strick_Sports.