CLASS A FOOTBALL: Lincoln East Ends Season With Loss To Gretna In Playoff Opener

GRETNA–(KFOR Oct. 29)–In a game that featured two of the state’s top quarterbacks, it was No. 5 seed Gretna that came out on top in the end, as the Dragons earned a 59-42 victory over No. 12 seed Lincoln East in the Class A football playoff opener Friday night.

Gretna (9-1) will get a rematch with Elkhorn South in the Class A quarterfinal round next Friday night.  The Storm handed the Dragons their only loss of the season three weeks ago.

East finishes the season at 6-4 that saw senior quarterback Noah Walters break the Class A single-season passing record in a dual with Gretna quarterback Zane Flores.

Walters help East cap a three-play, 52-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Billie Stephenson put the Spartans up 7-0, then connected with Stephenson on a 72-yard scoring strike the next possession.

On the ensuing kick, Gretna’s Braydon Chaney returned the ball 100-yards for a touchdown that got the Dragons on the scoreboard.  Gretna capitalized by intercepting a Walters pass at the East 38-yard line, which later set up a 1-yard touchdown run from Mike Huber to tie the game at 14  entering the second quarter.

East responded with a quick drive when Walters threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Malachi Coleman to put the Spartans back on top.  Gretna tied the game at 21 with 7:22 left in the second quarter, when Huber scored on a five-yard run.

Walters then found Cooper Erikson on a 65-yard touchdown pass with 5:52 left before halftime and East went up 28-21.  Gretna added a 29-yard field goal from Cameron Bothwell with 1:13 left in the first half and East kicker Kellan Gorr’s 30-yard field goal attempt with seven seconds remaining before halftime was blocked, but the Spartans led 28-24.

East got the ball to start the second half, but failed to convert on fourth down.  Gretna capitalized when Flores threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Chaney and the Dragons got their first lead at 31-28 with 9:05 remaining in the third quarter.  Then with just under four minutes left in the quarter, East recovered a Gretna fumble and Walters scored on a quarterback sneak play from three-yards out and the Spartans went back ahead, 35-31.

Right before the end of the third quarter, Gretna mounted with an 80-yard drive that ended when Flores scored on a quarterback sneak and the Dragons stayed on top for good, leading 38-35.

The tide turned for good when East’s Luke Greisen completed a catch, but fumbled the ball and Gretna defender Connor Edwards scooped the ball up and returned it 25-yards for a touchdown for a 52-35 lead with 5:23 to play in the game.

Walters’ final touchdown pass came with 3:43 remaining, when he found Erikson on a 48-yard scoring strike to pull East to within ten, 52-42.  Huber then scored once more for Gretna with 1:18 left in the game to seal the victory.

Walters threw for over 400 yards to give him the Class A single-season passing record, breaking former Lincoln High All-Stater Cedric Case’s record of 3,249 passing yards set in 2017.  Walters fell short of breaking the season record for passing touchdowns, throwing for 44 this season.

Huber had over 100 yards rushing and three touchdowns to lead the Dragons.