Nobody said it had to look pretty.
The Lincoln High School football team turned the ball over four times, had two touchdowns called back on penalties, and trailed at halftime with its high-scoring offense limited to six points.
But the third-ranked Abes won this one with defense, limiting cross-town rival Wilson to 123 yards of offense in their 26-10 victory at Lincoln Bowl on Friday to clinch the 3A Narrows League title in their first year under coach Masaki Matsumoto.
Lincoln (8-0, 6-0 3A Narrows) trailed 10-6 at halftime, but didn’t allow Wilson (4-4, 4-2) to complete a pass in the second half.
I had no doubt. Adversity is adversity. The defense has got the offense’s back and we did what we did. When they get support from us, they can do what they do.
Darien Williams, Lincoln senior defensive back
The Abes’ defense hasn’t spent much time in the limelight, especially after surrendering 46 points to Capital on Sept. 18, and with the offense scoring the second-most points of any 3A team behind top-ranked Eastside Catholic.
But it has now held its past five opponents to two touchdowns or less.
And it was Williams’ interception with about 4 minutes to go that put the nail in Wilson’s coffin.
“I was just locking down everybody I went against,” Williams said. “I let them know from the start that I was going to be a problem throughout the game so they didn’t try me like they did right there and obviously it didn’t work out for them.”
Wilson recovered a fumble on Lincoln’s first offensive play of the game and eight plays later quarterback Alex Motonaga hit A.J. Ruffin on a jump ball in the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
Motonaga hit Ruffin for a 29-yard pass earlier in the drive.
Matsumoto said Lincoln spent the rest of the game taking away the middle, preventing the the 6-foot-4, 245-pound Ruffin from catching another pass in the game.
Willie Hamilton, playing for injured quarterback Joey Sinclair, scored Lincoln’s first TD on a 15-yard scramble. But Wilson’s Alek Greenleaf made a 47-yard field goal with 11.2 seconds remaining in the first half to put the Rams up 10-6.
Lincoln then turned the ball over on a fumble and an interception in its first two possessions of the second half.
But Wilson couldn’t do anything with the gifts it was given and the Abes scored the go-ahead touchdown on Marcus Wiley’s 16-yard run with 3.8 seconds to go in the third quarter.
“They came out and established the momentum and we didn’t come back and match it offensively,” Rams coach Don Clegg said. “I don’t know whether our kids were just hesitant in the third quarter, but we just didn’t hold them.
“Our offense shot our defense in the foot.”
Dionte Simon, who ran for 64 yards on 18 carries, put Lincoln ahead by two scores when he ran in for a 3-yard touchdown following a Wilson fumble at its own 43. Then Williams followed with the game-sealing interception.
“Our defense has really stepped up in the past three weeks,” said Matsumoto, who is also the team’s defensive coordinator. “They’ve been studying the game plan and it’s a first-year defense, so I think it was going to take 6 to 8 weeks for the defense and for them to understand what we are trying to do. But it’s coming along.”
Wilson is now tied with Central Kitsap and Shelton for the No. 2 seed in the 3A Narrows. The top four teams from the league advance to the postseason and the Rams face Central Kitsap next week.
“We have to get back at it because now we’re playing for a playoff berth,” Clegg said.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677