The Lowell football team achieved excellence this year using a dull, death-by-a-thousand-paper-cuts-style of offense that melts the clock and wears opponents into submission.
David Henderson prefers to go for the quick kill and, in the end, it was the Lincoln running back and his Mustangs teammates who finally slew the Cardinals after their perfect Academic Athletic Association regular season.
Henderson rushed for 198 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries to lead second-seeded Lincoln to a 29-22 Turkey Bowl victory over top-seeded Lowell on Thursday in front of 5,000 fans at Kezar Stadium. Each of the junior’s two scores came from beyond 45 yards and on the first play of drives, including a 47-yard touchdown with 9:54 remaining in the game to give Lincoln (10-2) the 29-22 lead.
Lincoln has now won back-to-back Turkey Bowl titles for the first time in school history and advances to play the Oakland Section champion — McClymonds (7-2-1) and Skyline (5-6-1) play in the Silver Bowl today at 1 p.m. — Dec. 2 at Laney College in the inaugural Transbay Bowl.
"[When I break free] I’m thinking let’s get it over with," Henderson said. "I want to catch my breath, get some air and go do it again."
Henderson’s late heroics were necessary on a day Lowell (10-2) dominated the time of possession and appeared to be on its way to physically wrestling away the Turkey Bowl title. The Cardinals controlled the ball for more than 34 minutes, including a 15-play drive that consumed 9 minutes, 8 seconds that was prolonged with a roughing the kicker call on a field-goal attempt. The lengthy march was culminated with Raymond Wong’s 5-yard touchdown dive that gave Lowell a 22-13 lead with 24 seconds left in the third quarter.
But Henderson took a pitch on the next play down the left sideline for a 49-yard touchdown and then, after a Lincoln defensive stand, he made the remarkable 47-yard scoring run in which he danced at the line, made a spin move, sprinted to the right sideline and went untouched into the end zone.
"Every time that kid touches the ball, it’s magic," Lincoln linebacker Jose Medina said. "Some day I’ll probably be wearing his [NFL] jersey saying, ‘I know that guy, I used to play with him.’"
It was Medina who helped get the Mustangs back into the game going into halftime trailing 16-6. The senior helped the Lincoln defense hold Lowell to a rare three-and-out on its first possession of the second half and, after lineman David Garcia rushed in to block the ensuing punt, Medina scooped up the ball and ran it back for a 53-yard touchdown to make the score 16-13.
Lowell had earned its lead behind the hard running of backs Bismark Navarro (101 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries) and Marcos Cronander (16 for 86). It had two chances to tie the game after Henderson’s final score, but turned the ball over on downs at the Lincoln 31 with 5:27 left and had a last-gasp pass in the final minute intercepted by Lincoln cornerback Mike Paolucci at the Cardinals 38.
"My thing was I didn’t want my team to leave the field with any regrets," Lowell coach Danny Chan said. "And they played their hearts out today."
Lincoln 29, Lowell 22