By T. Scott Boatright
It was something the Lincoln Preparatory School football team had seen before.
And it was something Panthers coach Glen Hall had hoped he wouldn’t see again.
But the 11th-seeded Panthers let things get away from them Friday night as they fell 48-13 at sixth-seeded Haynesville in the second round of the Class 1A playoffs.
Lincoln Prep had lost 43-12 to its District 1-1A foe in regular-season action on Oct. 28.
Friday’s night loss to the Golden Tornado felt eerily familiar to Hall as Lincoln Prep again started strong against Haynesville and trailed only 6-0 midway through the second quarter before the wheels suddenly fell off
“It’s just one of those things when what I thought was a good plan just didn’t come together,” Hall said. “It went pretty much exactly like the first game when we played them in the regular season.”
Hall said that after Haynesville scored its first touchdown for a 6-0 lead, the Panthers looked like they were going to roar right back for a score of their own.
Then lightning struck for the Golden Tornado.
“We were driving the ball,” Hall said. “We were running it down their throat. They weren’t stopping us. And then our running back was running the ball and looking like he was breaking free, and one of their guys just took it from him and ran about 50 yards for the touchdown. Nobody hit our guy. It was like he just gave the ball to the Haynesville guy.
“I don’t know what happened. I’ve got to see the film. I don’t understand.”
Lincoln Prep did manage a first-half score as senior quarterback Ta’Rell Simmons raced to paydirt on a 52-yard scoring scamper.
That left Hall feeling like his team still had a shot to start the second half with the Panthers trailing 28-6.
Then lightning struck again for the Golden Tornado.
“To start the second half they came out and weren’t going to kick to (Lincoln Prep kick returner Dmitry Payne, who had scored on six kick returns this season heading into the game), so they kicked it toward another of our players,” Hall said. “All our guy had to do was fall on it. But instead he tried to pick it up and they hit him and recovered it. After that, it just all avalanched on us.”
Lincoln Prep’s second touchdown came late in the game when the Golden Tornado decided their lead was big enough to let Payne try to return a kick.
“I guess they just wanted to see him score,” Hall said. “After their last score, they kicked it deep. I don’t know what they were thinking, but he ran it back around 70 yards.”
While still searching for answers about his team’s untimely miscues, Hall remained positive in thinking about his seniors while already thinking about next season.
“Last year we won one game, and this year we end up 7-5 in the second round of the playoffs,” Hall said. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of. I’m proud of our guys. We have some seniors who are going to be hard to replace. A couple of them like Payne should get a chance to play college ball.
“We’ll just have to try to take care of them, get past this one and start thinking about next season.”
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