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Yuba City pulls it off
On fourth-and-8 from the Lincoln 20, David Schroeder hits Max Flores for the game-winning score with 5:50 remaining.
After 23 years of waiting, Yuba City High's football team finally has a postseason victory to its credit.
And what a win it was.
Facing Lincoln in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs on Friday night, the Honkers put two decades of frustration behind them as David Schroeder found Max Flores for the game-winning touchdown with 5:55 remaining to lift Yuba City to a thrilling 35-28 victory in front of a packed house at Honker Stadium.
It was the first lead of the game for the No. 7 seeded Honkers (8-3), who answered every Lincoln touchdown with a score of their own in a contest that went back and forth for the full 48 minutes.
"This is huge," said Yuba City coach John Ithurburn, who was a member of the last Honker team to win a playoff game back in 1987. "We've been knocking on the door for four years now, and we finally knocked it down."
Both offenses dominated the action early in this one as Lincoln scored touchdowns on each of its first three possessions, while the Honkers scored on their first two offensive series on a pair of short TD runs by Taylor Rowe.
Lincoln (6-5) appeared to take a 21-14 lead at the half, but Rowe recovered a fumble at the Fighting Zebras' 20-yard line with 50 seconds remaining, giving Yuba City its best field position of the game. Schroeder immediately turned the turnover into points by hitting Flores on a quick slant for the touchdown, making the score 21-21 at the half.
A botched punt led to a Lincoln touchdown early in the third period, but Rowe answered with a 6-yard touchdown run of his own setting the table for a stress-filled final period.
The score remained knotted at 28 before Yuba City's Josh Wallace pounced on a fumble at the Lincoln 35 with 7:44 remaining in the game.
Then came the play of the night.
On fourth-and-8 from the 20, Schroeder took the snap from center, dropped back to pass and found no one open. Looking to keep the play alive, the lefty signal-caller rolled to his right and lofted a pass near the goal line just before taking a vicious hit.
The pass was anybody's to grab, but Flores knifed his way in between two defenders to snatch the ball in the end zone for the game-winner, bringing a deafening roar from the Honker faithful.
"Unbelievable," Ithurburn said of the play. "That was all David and Max. That's not coaching, that's the kids."
Lincoln had one last chance to tie it, but Bernell Barmore broke up a pass on fourth-and-12, and Yuba City celebrated the win.
"We persevered and came together — it wasn't about individuals tonight," Ithurburn said. "Even kids in back-up roles contributed, and I'm proud of that."
Rowe finished with 111 yards on 20 carries and scored three touchdowns to lead the Honkers, who will face No. 2-seeded Patterson next week.