LINCOLN — Ace McKinnis was close, as the Grand Island defensive back was all night to Lincoln High’s receiving corps.
Asked to guess how many yards the Links threw for, McKinnis said, “150?”
Close. And better than that — 137.
His Islanders broke up many a pass, some at the line, others in the secondary, in rallying for a 42-27 win Friday night over Lincoln High that kept them undefeated through two games against then-ranked opponents.
“We weren’t ranked coming into the year, so nobody expects this, except us,” McKinnis said. “We’re all together as a team and when we are it can make up for some of the athletic differences. And we got two wins.”
It was a frustrating night for Cedric Case, Lincoln High’s North Dakota-bound quarterback. The senior was 17 of 31 for 137 yards and a first-quarter touchdown, a week after throwing for 454 in a double-overtime loss to Bellevue West.
“Cedric is a great player and the receiving corps is well-coached,” Islanders coach Jeff Tomlin said. “We didn’t give up the big play. Overall, our secondary answered the bell.”
Grand Island’s scoring came from three touchdown passes from Cole Evans and three touchdown runs from Caleb Francl.
Evans had better passing stats than Case, 14 of 21 for 257 yards. He hit Broc Douglass for a 5-yard touchdown to start the game, a 69-yarder to Ben Reilly to start the second half and a 26-yarder to Timo Sikes to end their team’s closing 21-point rally.
The Islanders were exceedingly charitable to their host, losing four turnovers, with the No. 7 Links (0-2) scoring off the first three. They looked to have Grand Island on its heels when taking their only lead of the game, 27-21 with 4:36 left in the third quarter on Isaiah Alford’s second touchdown. The 190-pound senior ran for 150 yards on 23 carries.
But a missed extra point after the previous Links touchdown, a 6-yard scoop and score from Jadus Ellis, was still haunting them.
Grand Island took the lead for good at 28-27 on Francl’s 16-yard run for his second score — kicker Keyin Wentling was perfect on his six extra-point tries — with 52 seconds left in the third quarter. Lincoln High had a 35-yard field goal sail wide left.
A 29-yard pass to Douglass kept alive the drive that staked the Islanders to a 35-27 lead. Francl scored from the 3 with 2:35 left. Lincoln High then turned over the ball on downs — no successful comeback as it had against Bellevue West to force overtime — as Ben Reilly added a fourth-down breakup to his touchdown catch as highlight plays.
“We have no one to blame but ourselves,” Lincoln coach Mark Macke said. “We were in it for a while. I thought we were wearing them down and as it turned out, they wore us down. They were more disciplined than we were.”
Grand Island (2-0)..........14 0 14 14—42
At Lincoln High (0-2)...........7 7 13 0—27
GI: Broc Douglass 5 pass from Cole Evans (Keyin Wentling kick)
LH: Jaden Horton 4 pass from Cedric Case (Christopher Izaguirre kick)
GI: Caleb Francl 6 run (Wentling kick)
LH: Isaiah Alford 19 run (Izaguirre kick)
GI: Ben Reilly 69 pass from Evans (Wentling kick)
LH: Jadus Ellis 6 fumble return (kick failed)
LH: Alford 1 run (Izaguirre kick)
GI: Francl 16 run (Wentling kick)
GI: Francl 3 run (Wentling kick)
GI Timo Sikes 26 pass from Evans (Wentling kick)
Rushing: GI,J Reilly 18-60, Evans 11-53, Francl 13-84, Sikes 1-7. LH, Alford 23-150, Case 5-9, Caleb Miller 2-2.
Passing: GI, Evans 14-21-0 257. LH, Case 17-31-0 137.
Receiving: GI, Douglass 6-63, Sikes 2-60, B. Reilly 1-69, J. Reilly 3-43, Cahoy 1-5, Kyle Sextro 1-17, LH, Reat Choul 1-7, Alford 2-14, CJ Jones 1-8, Horton 6-69, Morgan Perry 2-22, Miller 1-6, Darius Luff 2-13 , Ellis 2-(minus 2).
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Front row, from left: Sam Sims, Grand Island; Dietrick Stolz, Grand Island Central Catholic; James Burks, Omaha Burke; Dylan Sales, Omaha Burke; Shane Dailey, Bellevue West; Jarod Epperson, Omaha Skutt. Second row, from left: D.J. Gross, McCook; Garrett Snodgrass, York; Xavier Watts, Omaha Burke; Jevyon Ducker, Bellevue West; Kohl Herbolsheimer, Millard South; Alex Rodgers, Omaha Roncalli. Third row, from left: Joseph Krause, Seward; Ethan Piper, Norfolk Catholic; Nick Henrich, Omaha Burke; Garrett Nelson, Scottsbluff; Chris Hickman, Omaha Burke. Back row, from left: Zavier Betts, Bellevue West; Mehki Butler, Omaha North; Caden Johnson, Wahoo Neumann; Tyson Gordon, Omaha Skutt; Baylor Scheierman, Aurora; Noah Stafursky, York. Not pictured: Isaiah Alford, Lincoln High
Like the burr oaks at Mahoney State Park that were the backdrop for this photo, the 2017 All-Nebraska football team branched out with players from the Wyoming state line to the Missouri River.
The 2016 All-Nebraska football team "earned their wings" at the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum.
Back row from left: York's Masry Mapieu, Bellevue West's Sylvo Johnson, Lincoln East's Chris Walker, Gretna's Patrick Arnold, Bellevue West's Tyler Ciurej, Omaha Burke's Cole Frahm, Wilber-Clatonia's Riley Homolka, Norfolk's Lane McCallum, Ashland-GW's Brett Kitrell, and Beatrice's Cam Jurgens.
Middle row from left: Kearney's Noah Urbanek, Bellevue West's Jaylin Bradley, Omaha North's Kendrick Parker, Omaha North's Milton Sargbah, Elkhorn South's Moses Bryant, Omaha Skutt's Christian Banker, and Creighton Prep's AJ Hubner.
Front row from left: Wahoo Neumann's Noah Vedral, Omaha North's Zion Williams, Bellevue West's Diego Galvan, McCook's Zach Schlager, Bellevue West's Kevin Ponec, Norris' Austin Schultz, and Millard North's Jack Begley.
The 2015 All-Nebraska football team gathered at Papillion-La Vista High School for the photo shoot.
The 2014 All-Nebraska football team posted on the steps of the Joslyn Art Museum. The cover read: "A Step Ahead: The 24 members of the All-Nebraska football team towered over foes."
Back rows, starting from left: Papillion-La Vista South’s Jeremy Kowalski, No. 75; Seward’s Adam Holtorf, No. 79; Papillion-La Vista South’s Ryan Earith; Kearney’s Brian Arp, No. 55; Elkhorn South’s Brett Stinson; Grand Island’s Kevin Cahoy, No. 12; Omaha Central’s Tre Sanders, No. 6; Omaha Central’s DaiShon Neal, No. 9; Grand Island’s Pierce Almond, No. 2; Blair’s Vance Janssen; Bellevue West’s CJ Johnson; Boone Central/Newman Grove’s Wyatt Mazour; Omaha Central’s Xavier Graham, No. 64; Creighton Prep’s Jeremiah Stovall; and Creighton Prep’s Jack McLeay, No. 54. Front rows, starting from left: Omaha North’s Cole Bixler, No. 34; Omaha North’s Michael Decker, No. 78; Omaha North’s Calvin Strong, No. 5; Omaha North’s Jason Martin; Grand Island Central Catholic’s Youhanna Ghaifan; Millard North’s Adrrell Taylor, No. 27; Omaha North’s Marquise Lewis, No. 1; McCook’s Bryce Lyons, No. 21; and Omaha North’s Markell Vaughn, No. 22.
In 2013, the All-Nebraska football and volleyball teams came together for a photo shoot, and the cover was designed to look like a Facebook page with the teams taking one big selfie.
The 2012 All-Nebraska football team made a splash in the shark tunnel of the Scott Aquarium at the Henry Doorly Zoo.
Standing, from left: Luke McNitt, Kearney; DJ Foster, Lincoln Southeast; Josh Banderas, Lincoln Southwest; Nick DeLuca, Millard North; Harrison Phillips, Millard West; Mike Milenkovich, Millard North; Bryce Sosnowski, Millard South; Nathan Bazata, Howells-Dodge; Casey Sayles, Omaha North.
Middle row: Christian LaCouture, Lincoln Southwest; Jordan Bellar, Norfolk Catholic; Clay Fisher Millard North; Isaac Aakre, Millard North; Matt Kraft, Millard South; Alec Ditoro, Papillion-La Vista; Jake Schlager, McCook; Lee Carhart, Creighton Prep; Freeman Coleman, Millard South.
Front row: Andy Bayne, Millard North; Trey Carr, Omaha Burke; Calvin Strong, Omaha North; Skyler Monaghan, Millard West; Devin Washington, Lincoln Southeast; RJ Urzendowski, Creighton Prep.
With the Omaha skyline in the background, the 2011 All-Nebraska football team was "Standing Tall" at Pioneer Courage Park not far from the Omaha World-Herald building.
Bottom Row (from left): Tay Bender, RB, Lincoln Southwest; Isaac Aakre, RB, Millard North; Landon Arnold, OL, Millard North; Andrew Coppa, DL, Omaha Burke; Trey Foster, DL, Lincoln Southeast; Bo Liekhus, DB, Bellevue West.
Middle Row (from left): Darian Barrientos-Jackson, DB, Omaha Central; James Anderson, OL, Omaha Burke; Andy Janovich, LB, Gretna; Drew Farlee, K, Norfolk Catholic; Mike Minter Jr., DB, Lincoln North Star; Sam Cotton, DL, Lincoln Southeast; Devin Washington, RB, Lincoln Southeast; Sam Foltz, DB, Grand Island; Jeremy Callahan, P, Lexington; Robbie Lafour, OL, Lincoln Southeast; Jake Schany, LB, Blair; Jordan Nelson, RB, Omaha Burke; Ryker Fyfe, QB, Grand Island.
Top Row (from left): Jordan Brichacek, OL, Howells; Zach Oliver, WR, Omaha Burke; Terry Grigsby, DB, Omaha North; Drew Ott, LB, Giltner; Mike Shoff, OL, Cambridge.
All-Nebraska football captains Jimmie Forsythe of Omaha Burke and Tyson Broekemeier of Aurora were the focus in 2010 during this shoot at Turner Park at Midtown Crossing.
The 2009 All-Nebraska football hopped aboard this old streetcar at the Durham Museum.
There was "nothing pedestrian" about the 2008 All-Nebraska football team, which posed in front of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge.
Back row, from left, Tyrone Sellers of McCook, Corey Serrano of North Platte, Nathan Zook of Grand Island, Eric Koehlmoos of Pierce, Tyler Daake of Norfolk Catholic, Tyler Niederklein of Millard West, Charles Viers of Millard West, Josh Kage of Papillion-LaóVista, Jake Herweyer of Millard West, Cole Pensick of Lincoln Northeast, Jordan Hale of Millard South, Andrew Rodriguez of Aurora, James Davis of Omaha North, Jon Lechner of Prep, Scott Criss of Omaha Creighton Prep and C.J. Zimmerer of Omaha Gross. Front row, Matt Berry of McCook, Braden Taylor of Grand Island, Vinny Molina of Kearney, Kohlman Adema-Schulte of Millard West, Bryant Giles of Omaha North, Michael Burrus of Papillion-LaóVista South, Ronald Coleman of North, Tyler Seals of Bellevue West and Greg Hardin of Bellevue West.
For the 2007 All-Nebraska football team, The World-Herald chose individual shots for the cover instead of the group photo, and the result was "Picture Perfect."
No challenge was too steep for the "Rock Solid" 2006 All-Nebraska football team, who posed in front of a climbing wall at Dick's Sporting Goods.
The 2005 All-Nebraska football team wore letterman jackets for the photo shoot instead of their jerseys.
Top, from left, Millard North's Corey Young, Lincoln Southwest's Ian Dike, Millard North's Adam Nelson, Bellevue West's Silas Fluellen, Omaha Central's D.J. Jones (back row), Millard North's Jeff Tarpinian, Kearney's Tony Green, Lincoln Southwest's Ben Martin, Bellevue West's Jeff Martin, Lincoln Southwest's Ollie Sloup, Papillion-LaVista's Kyle Dooley and McCook's Josh Cherry.
Bottom, from left, Omaha Benson's Anthony Williams, Kearney's Joey Rousseau, Lincoln Southwest's Andy Cotton, Omaha Burke's Ricky Henry, Omaha South's Philip Barrientos, Creighton Prep's Mark Waring, Omaha Burke's Alex Henery, Millard West's Brandon Pete, Omaha Burke's Travis Liechti, Millard North's Paul Homer, Omaha North's Aaron Terry and Millard West's Matt Leaders.
Nothing says football like rows of poinsettias. Those were the accents that went with this photo shoot for the 2004 All-Nebraska football team.