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Lincoln converts a fourth-down play to score the winning points

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - Lincoln running back D.J. Pope looks for room against Greshams defense in the second half Friday. He caught the winning 18-yard touchdown pass with 6:13 to play. GRESHAM — Lincoln senior D.J. Pope wasn’t taking any chances when he saw the ball coming his way with the game on the line Friday night.

Facing 4th-and-1 from the Gophers’ 18-yard line, Lincoln didn’t bother with a smash-mouth play to move the markers. The Cardinals went for the win.

Junior QB Nate Ostmo rolled out to his right, surveying his options as a collection of receivers flooded the end zone. Pope got lost in the mix, finding a hole near the back line. Now all he had to do was make the catch.

“I knelt down and used my whole body to get to it. There was no way I was missing that catch. I couldn’t let my team down,” Pope said.

He indeed made the grab for an 18-17 lead, which moved to 20-17 after Calum Maloney caught the two-point conversion pass with 6:13 to play.

The winning drive featured plenty of pressure-packed moments, starting with a 3rd-and-9 play where Jaray Kindell caught the ball at the marker and spun away from a tackler to pick up an extra 15 yards.

A few minutes later, Lincoln faced 4th-and-1 and stayed alive when Quentin Lake slid across the turf to make a grab for a 9-yard pick up.

“It was gut check time and it just came down to who wants it most,” Ostmo said.

Two plays later, Ostmo scrambled to his right, pulled down the ball and raced toward the first-down marker. A crowd of Gresham tacklers crashed into him and the ball came out of his hands, but Ostmo was able to regain control of it on his way to the turf.

“Not very good ball security right there. The ball just popped out, but I was lucky enough to grab it back,” Ostmo said. “Two plays later we get the winning touchdown.”

Gresham tried to answer quickly on its next possession, firing a long pass down the center of the field. Ostmo had the receiver blanketed and came down with the interception.

The Gophers would get one more chance, but it seemed to quickly disappear, as well. Two incomplete passes followed by Lincoln’s John Duffy breaking through for a sack left the home crowd deflated. But a personal foul penalty allowed Gresham to pick up a first down, and the Gophers continued to move inside the 20-yard line with less than two minutes to play.

Gresham took a shot at the end zone with a pass that deflected off the hands of Mason McCoy and fluttered toward teammate Ben Bachman in the end zone. But the pass hit the ground before Bachman could get his hands under it.

That left the Gophers to attempt a 32-yard field goal to force overtime. The kicked went wide right.

The win was the first of the season for Lincoln.

“It feels really good right now,” Pope said. “Last year we started 0-2 and it all went downhill after that. We weren’t going to do that this season.”

View a photo gallery from the game at …


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