Though the first drive of the night resulted in a blocked punt, Lincoln’s offense helped the Golden Bears jump out to a virtually insurmountable 23-0 lead before halftime. A misfired snap on a punt from the Warriors contributed to a safety as well.
Senior Golden Bears quarterback Chance Byrd received the honor of ‘Homecoming King’ before the game began, but iron-man sophomore running back and cornerback Zay Caldwell proved to be king of the field, racking up 163 rushing yards on five carries with three rushing touchdowns, catching three passes for 12 yards and intercepting two passes from Warriors junior quarterback J.T. Hill.
Caldwell’s second interception came on the first offensive play of the second half. He leapt in front of the intended receiver and scampered into the end zone on the 38-yard return, giving the Golden Bears a 30-0 lead over the Warriors.
“Zay Caldwell is a special athlete for us,” Lincoln head coach Brad Wallace said. “He has come alive for us here in the past few weeks. He understands the game, performs during practice and gets better week after week. You can really see it on the field right now.”
Major miscues from the Warriors stymied nearly every good opportunity they encountered throughout the night. A mountain of penalties and a half-dozen fumbled snaps – four on offense and two on special teams – served as drive killers, three of them deep inside the red zone.
“We just backed ourselves up and we never played a good game,” Warriors head coach Thomas Curry said. “It was just a terrible game and we made mistakes. I wish we could’ve given Lincoln a better game – and I think we could have – but we just shot ourselves in the foot time after time after time. We have some good athletes here; we just couldn’t get it done.”
The Warriors’ best opportunity to rally the charge came shortly after running back Dallas Cabe scored on a 23-yard run and caught the subsequent two-point conversion pass attempt to register on the scoreboard, down 30-8 with three minutes and 48 seconds left in the third quarter. Three plays into Lincoln’s next series, running back Jalen Turner fumbled the football, giving the Warriors the ball on Lincoln’s 38-yard line.
Within five plays, the Warriors advanced the ball to the Golden Bears’ 2-yard line.
As the seconds ticked down in the final minute of the third quarter, the Warriors attempted three consecutive running plays to try and make it a two-score game. Lincoln’s defense would have none of it as they fed off the energy of the packed home section, who all stamped their feet against the metal rungs of the bleachers to create a thunderous roar echoing across the field.
On the fourth-and-goal attempt just before the start of the fourth quarter, the Warriors fumbled another snap and turned the ball over on downs at Lincoln’s 16-yard line.
Caldwell capped his monstrous night with a 56-yard touchdown run that put the game well out of reach, 37-8.
The Warrior moved to 2-4 on the season, while the Golden Bears improved to 2-4.
“This is homecoming,” Wallace said. “We had a group of people here from the 1960s celebrating their 50th anniversary of their graduation. It’s great to come in here and bring home the W. I think our guys can get better, and we’ve been taking steps. They performed tonight like I wanted them to. The offensive line came alive a little bit tonight. We’re getting better in that part of the game. If we can get better and continue to play like we are right now with some intensity and fight in us, we’re going to be okay.”