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RCB slips past Lincoln

by Chris Errington


(September 5) SHINNSTON -- Robert C. Byrd's 7-0 victory over Lincoln Friday night may have moved the Eagles to 2-0 on the season, but head coach Richard Iaquinta was less than pleased.

"Our defense played well, but we were so inconsistent offensively," Iaquinta said. "We had too many penalties, too many mistakes and not enough positive plays. This was a whole team failure offensively."

Iaquinta was referring to the Eagles' nine penalties and inability to generate a sustained drive until late in the third quarter against a defense that yielded 394 total yards and 35 points to Tyler Consolidated a week ago.

Only quarterback Nick Thornhill's 2-yard sneak with 14 seconds remaining in the third quarter prevented a scoreless deadlock. And even that drive started at the Cougars' 45 following a shanked punt.

"We just didn't get anything going offensively," Iaquinta said. "To be consistent offensively, you need your offensive line to pick up blocks and for your running backs to run through the right holes and we didn't do a whole lot of that tonight."

After a slow start, Lincoln (0-2) had its best chance to score, fittingly following a mistake. A Jackie Williams punt bounced and hit off the helmet of a Robert C. Byrd return man, giving the Cougars a first down at the Eagles' 9.

After three runs gained two yards, Williams hit end Roy Sampson with a swing pass in the flat. Sampson seemed headed for a touchdown before he was upended inside the 1, ending the threat.

"Coming in, I really thought this was a game we could win," Lincoln coach Frank Lopez said. "The kids stepped it up and our defense played well enough to win, but we just couldn't capitalize on offense."

While neither team threatened the rest of the half, penalties did begin to mount for Robert C. Byrd. At one point, three consecutive penalties turned a first down at the 35 into a first-and-30 at the 15.

The teams seemed destined to head to overtime with a scoreless tie before Robert C. Byrd took over at the Lincoln 45 with 3:22 remaining in the third.

Three runs by Pete Arbonaise and one by Thornhill gave the Eagles a first-and-goal from the Cougars' 6. But even from there, it was a struggle for Robert C. Byrd. Finally, three plays later, Thornhill followed a push up the middle into the end zone.

From there, field position was Lincoln's biggest problem.

The Cougars started their final five possessions from their 9, 18, 18, 26 and 36. And with the Eagles snuffing out every Lincoln running attempt and harassing Williams into 1-for-5 passing with two sacks, including John Veltri's blind-side blast on the final play, the Cougars never came close to scoring.

"Field position was the difference in the second half," Lopez said.

"We never had a chance to open up the offense because we were worried about making a mistake."

The Eagles rolled up 179 rushing yards and 217 total yards compared to Lincoln's 101, but Iaquinta promised to make changes.

"I'm glad we're 2-0, but we need to change what we're doing or how we're doing it," Iaquinta said.

"We'll have a very tough week of practice," Iaquinta said. "They don't call it Labor Day for nothing."