LINCOLN–(KFOR Oct. 27)–The Lincoln East football team kept their season alive by holding on late against Lincoln Southeast, as the Spartans defeated the Knights 24-17 in the opening round of the NSAA Class A State Football Playoffs Friday night at Seacrest Field.

Eleventh-seeded East (7-3) advances to next Friday’s quarterfinal against No. 4 seed Elkhorn South, who earned a 42-8 victory in their first round meeting with Papillion-LaVista South.  Southeast completes their season with a 6-4 record.

Spartan junior quarterback Jeter Worthley, who is a University of Michigan baseball recruit, garnered 171 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns in the win.  Much of East’s success early came through ball control for most of the first half.

The opening drive of the game saw the Spartans maintain possession for over seven minutes before a 22-yard field goal from Collin Nehe, as East went ahead 3-0.  On the next Spartans drive, Worthley fumbled the ball at the Southeast 6-yard line and the Knights gained possession on Bryson Ebeler’s recovery, which led to an empty possession.

Caden Cetak would score on the next East possession on a 47-yard toss in the flat from Worthley with 2:40 left in the second quarter and the Spartans increased their lead to 10-0.  Southeast soon drove down field on a pair of runs from Owen Baxter (28 yards) and Cash Buettenback (15 yards).  Connor Knollenberg would boot a 28-yard field goal with 19 seconds left in the first half and Southeast trailed 10-3.

Early in the third quarter, East struck again when Luke Lindquist intercepted a Baxter pass at the Knight 40-yard line and returned the ball to the 30-yard line.  That would soon set up  Worthley’s 30-yard scoring run to make it a 17-3 lead.  Then freshman Kadin Logan returned the ensuing kickoff 69-yards to the East 31-yard line and Buettenback later scored on a one-yard run to pull the Knights to within a score at 17-10 with just over eight minutes left in the quarter.

East would go up by two touchdowns when Worthley broke free for a 25-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.  Southeast responded when Baxter found Dallas Washington on a swing pass in the left flat for a 20-yard touchdown with 6:18 left to pull the Knights to within a score.

East was reaching a point where they could start to run out the clock by taking care of the football, but a Worthley fumble at the Southeast 34-yard line ended up being recovered by the Knights and a chance to drive down field for a tie.

The Spartan defense came up big and forced the Southeast offense to turn the ball over on downs on a fourth down incompleted pass with 1:34 left.  Worthley took three snaps and knees each time to seal the victory.

Click the link below to hear the podcast of Friday night’s playoff game.

Football: Class A Playoffs-Lincoln East at Lincoln Southeast 10-27-23.

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