With just over 2 minutes left in the game, Whitworth needed to do something it hadn’t been able to do the entire fourth quarter in its game against Lincoln – get a defensive stop.
Pirates senior defensive back Jacob Hogger did something he’s already done this season – snag a game-saving interception with seconds left on the clock to preserve Whitworth’s 31-29 win. It was Hoggers’ second in as many games this season.
The Pirates headed into the fourth quarter in a seemingly comfortable position, with a 24-9 lead and with Lincoln out of timeouts. The Oaklanders’ offense hadn’t found the end zone during the first three quarters, their only touchdown coming from junior Jaquez Willams-Christ, who returned a fumble by Bucs receiver Ethan Peloquin for a 30-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Lincoln, in its first football season, took the lead with 5 minutes, 40 seconds left in the first half on a 37-yard field goal from junior kicker Oswaldo Ochoa.
That lead, the first in Oaklanders football history, didn’t last long. Whitworth responded on the next play with a 62-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Jaedyn Prewitt to sophomore tight end Isaac Fields. The play was also Prewitt’s first one back after sitting most of the second quarter.
“It was planned (to sit Prewitt) before the game started,” Whitworth coach Rod Sandberg said. “We need to get Prewitt’s backup ready if anything were to happen to Jaedyn. We wanted to get (freshman quarterback Caleb Christensen) some work in when it matters.”
“(The touchdown) was a huge play for us that got us going a little bit,” Sandberg said. “It gave us some good momentum going into the half.”
That momentum continued through the third quarter, as the Pirates added to their lead with a 30-yard field goal from senior kicker Nate RaPue and an interception returned for a 42-yard touchdown by junior linebacker Patrick Serrano.
But when the fourth quarter started, Oaklanders senior quarterback Cameron Burston took over. Burston had 144 of his 271 total passing yards during the quarter – connecting for 38- and 41-yard touchdown passes. Burston also rushed for 33 yards, including a 4-yard TD run, during the fourth. Burston finished with 338 of the Oaklanders’ 452 total offensive yards.
“He’s just an athlete,” Prewitt said of Burston. “He’s a big, tall, athletic dude who can chuck the ball. He was getting loose and making plays. That’s just what athletes do. He’s going to making big plays for them this whole year.”
The Oaklanders found the end zone on all their fourth-quarter drives. After forcing the Pirates into a late punt, Lincoln took over on its 4-yard line with 2:14 remaining and the ball back in Burston’s hands.
Burston started the drive with a 21-yard scramble. With 23 seconds left, he looked for junior wide receiver Lamar Housley on a deep route. Instead, Hogger jumped in front to pick off Burston’s pass at Whitworth’s 27-yard line, allowing the Pirates to kneel to run out the clock on the next possession.
“The game shouldn’t have been close,” Prewitt said. “We’re a much better team than them. We showed glimpses of it, but we just let them back. We gave them life and that’s the kind of team that’s going to run with it if you give them life. Hats off to them. They competed their butts off.”
“We had to work hard to win that football game,” Sandberg said. “I’m proud of how we persevered, but we’ve got to work on consistency.”
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