SPORTS

Lexington eliminates United

Staff reports
United’s Christian Schrader reverses direction after picking off a Lexington pass in the second half of the Minutemen’s 24-13 quarterfinal win over the Red Storm.

MONMOUTH - The United Red Storm flirted with yet another unlikely finish, but could not stop Lexington on a 79-yard, 12-play, 5:16 game-clinching fourth quarter scoring drive in a 24-13 quarterfinal loss to the Minutemen Saturday afternoon.

"I am proud of out kids and the leadership of a great group of seniors," said United coach Tim Engebretson. "This is as much fun as I have ever had in my coaching career."

It was a death of 1,000 cuts for United, who contained Minutemen star running back T. J. Stinde to only one gain of over 20 yards, but had difficulty forcing Lexington to punt throughout the game. Stinde ended with 246 yards on 37 carries and three of the Minutemen's scores. But, save for a 54-yard touchdown run at 8:42 in the third quarter, United held Stinde to just over 5-yards per carry, approximately half of his season average.

"He (Stinde) is about as sound a running back as we have seen, the way he rips through tackles. We wanted to hold him to one big play and we did," Engetbretson said. "There were two of the best backs around on the field today. They did a good job stopping Adam (Olin). Their defensive line caused us lots of problems."

Lexington coach Mike Castleman called it a classic game.

"This was a great football game. You had two good teams going toe to toe, we were just fortunate enough to win," he said.

Trailing 18-0 after Stinde's 54-yard score, the Red Storm rallied late in the third quarter. United got on the scoreboard on Olin's 2-yard touchdown run off the left side of the line to cut the lead to 18-7 with 2:54 to play in the quarter. The score culminated a 14-play, 86-yard drive that included a conversion on fourth-and-two at the United 23 on the drive's first series of downs.

United quarterback Zach Steele was 4-of-5 on the drive for 72 yards.

"We weren't moving the ball on the ground so we went to the pass," Engebretson said.

After the teams exchanged possessions, Christian Schrader picked off a Lexington pass and returned it to the Minutemen 38-yard line. Olin scored running off of the right tackle on the third play of the ensuing drive, a 33-yard run, to cut the lead to 18-13 with 8:31 to go. United went for two to try to cut the deficit to a field goal but could not convert.

Stinde was stuffed at the 21-yard line on the ensuing kickoff, but the Red Storm defense could not stop the Minutemen from driving for the game-clinching score.

"We felt if we could stop them we would win the game," Engebretson said. "They wore us down a bit and hurt us with a counter."

Lexington led 12-0 at halftime and drove 91 yards on seven plays to start the second half to stretch the lead to 18 before United rallied.

Castleman was impressed with his team's final scoring drive.

"You've got to give it to the offensive line. Not one person here did not know we were going to run the ball on that last drive," Castleman said.

Lexington outgained United 422-212 overall and 336-117 on the ground. United simply could not gain yardage consistently rushing the ball, while the Minutemen were successful on the ground.

Minuteman quarterback Chris Beard was 6-of-12 for 86 yards but suffered three Red Storm interceptions.

For the Red Storm, Olin gained 88 yards on 20 carries and scored twice. Nick Hull rushed six times for 10 yards and Aaron McDonald gained 15 yards on six carries in limited duty.

McDonald left the game in the first half with what appeared to be an ankle injury.

Steele was 4-of-7 for 65 yards and Nick Hull was 1-of-1 for 30 yards through the air for United. Josh Winston caught two passes for 43 yards and Olin caught two for 36.

Lexington (12-0) advanced to the IHSA 1A semifinals while United's season ended 10-2 with a Lincoln Trail Conference championship.

"I am not happy with the outcome, but this team accomplished a lot this season," Engebretson said. "We are proud of them."