Lincoln County High School and Needles met in Panaca last Friday with the top spot in 2A Southern League on the line. Both teams were undefeated going in, and the game didn’t disappoint, going right down to the wire. But it was Lincoln County that pulled out a one-point, come-from-behind win as junior kicker Aldo Tiberio punched the extra point through with seconds remaining after the Lynx final scoring drive.
It was Lincoln’s homecoming game, making the win even sweeter.
The teams has been preparing for the game all season. Coach Rich Ottley said, “In the last three years we’ve beaten them, but they were all close games.”
It didn’t look great for the home team in the first quarter. Needles scored first and had a two-point conversion. It looked like the Lynx were going to answer right back on the ensuing kickoff, as sophomore Camden Lewis took it to the house, but the play was called it back due to holding on Lincoln.
Needles main strength is senior running back Derek Wagstaff. He leads all of southern Nevada in the points scored, with 19 touchdowns and 15 two-point conversions. That adds up to 144 points.
Part of Ottley’s game plan was “to contain Wagstaff,” but that’s easier said than done.
A Wagstaff touchdown and another two-point conversion in the second quarter gave Needles a 16-0 lead.
However, senior running back Derek Mathews answered with a great run, breaking four tackles to force himself into the end zone.
Lincoln failed on a two-point try, and Needles scored once more before the half and converted the two points to take 24-6 lead at halftime.
“I was a little frustrated at halftime,” Ottley said. “We should have had the lead. He told his team, “We need to play our brand of football.”
Ottley’s remarks must have worked, because the defense stepped up and shut Needles down in the third quarter.
Junior Landon Smith changed the momentum with a touchdown and interception.
Another Smith touchdown in the fourth quarter brought the Lynx within four points, 24-20. After another defensive stop, Mathews had a 54-yard run for a touchdown, and the Lynx took their first lead of the game, 26-24.
The homecoming crowd was in a frenzy, feeling like the game was in hand, but with over seven minutes remaining in the game, Needles wasn’t going to let it be that easy. After being shut out most of the second half, the Mustangs’ offense aggressively marched down the field for a touchdown and two-point conversion to take a six-point lead.
With four minutes left, the pressure was on. All Needles had to do was stop the Lynx. Lincoln really wanted the win like they wanted air to breathe.
It was crunch time, but this is where the Lynx excel. The offense inched closer and closer to the end zone. Soon enough they got stuck on the one-yard line. They only had a few chances left to score, so they gave it to Mathews, who took it right up the middle and barely made it into the end zone to tie it up at 32-32 with 22 seconds left.
Now it was all on Tiberio. The crowd quieted down as he lined up for the extra point. His kick went a little high and too the left but sailed through the poles just fine.
The Lynx (7-0, 5-0) took on Mountain View (0-6, 0-5) on Thursday for the final game of the season.
Agassi Prep (2-3) faced Lake Mead (2-3) also on Thursday. The winner of that game will take the No. 4 seed and head to Panaca against the one seed Lynx Nov. 4 in the first week of the postseason.