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Capitols claim Pacific North title, beat Tri-City 61-48

July 5, 2002 - National Indoor Football League (NIFL) - Lincoln Capitols News Release

The Lincoln Capitols claimed the NIFL’s Pacific Conference North Division title Friday night, beating the Tri-City Diesel 61-48 at the Pershing Center.

Lincoln jetted to a 14-0 lead on three snaps on offense as the Capitols scored on an 18-yard pass from Josh Luedtke to Ryan Hinske, and, following a Darrin Tankersley field goal miss, tallied another as Derrick Smith, Jr. caught the longest TD pass of the season for Lincoln, a 45-yarder with 10:48 remaining in the first period.

The Capitols would not score another touchdown until the 2:54 mark of the 2nd quarter, but got a pair of Chace Long field goals to cling to a lead. Tri-City capitalized on a pair of Lincoln turnovers to get scores and took a brief 21-20 lead when Justin Coleman found Mitch Ables for a 10-yard TD reception.

Lincoln answered, however, one play later as Luedtke found Tyrone Tyler for a 29-yard scoring strike, and then used a Jathi Green interception to set up another score before halftime. Lincoln marched from the five in 10 plays, scoring on a 2-yard reception by Rayshawn Askew with seven second remaining in the first half.

Tri-City would get the final points of the first half as Tankersley made up for a pair of misses by knocking home a 35-yarder to trim the Diesel deficit to 34-24 at the break.

Tri-City opened the second half with the football, but nearly lost the chance at scoring as running back Sherman Jones lost the football but recovered his own fumble in the end zone with 10:22 to play in the 3rd. Following Tankersley’s PAT, Lincoln’s lead was again down to three, 34-31.

The teams traded touchdowns for the remainder of the third quarter, with Lincoln holding a 10-point lead to open the fourth. Tri-City cut the lead to seven on a Tankersley 22-yard field goal. That would be the closest the Diesel would get, as Lincoln tallied Derrick Smith’s third TD reception of the night, a 30-yarder with 10:46 to play, recovered a Diesel fumble, and scored one play later when Tyler caught his second of the night, a 32-yarder from Luedtke. The Capitols lead with 9:03 to play was 20, and Tri-City would get no closer down the stretch until they scored on a 6-yard run by Andre Hatcher with 1:00 to play.

Luedtke matched his season-high with seven touchdowns on a night that saw him go 19-of-27 for 269 yards and one interception. Smith had his best receiving night of the season, making six catches for 120 yards and three touchdowns. Askew added six grabs for 46 yards and ran for another 52 on 16 carries. Tyler made four catches for 70 yards and 2 scores, and Ryan Hinske finished with three catches for 33 yards and a touchdown.

The Capitol defense limited Tri-City to 174 yards of total offense, and forced four turnovers—Green picking off Coleman twice, and a pair of fumbles. Ben Jones and Travis Kopf led the Capitols with 10 tackles apiece.

Tri-City’s Coleman finished 13-of-31 for 130 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Ables made six catches for the Diesel, for 72 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Hatcher was the leading rusher for the visitors, carrying the ball 11 times for 36 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

The Capitols finished the NIFL regular season with a 10-4 mark and claim the Pacific Conference’s second-seed for the playoffs, beginning Friday night. Lincoln will host a first-round playoff contest Friday night at 7:05PM. Season ticket holders will be able to pick up tickets for the game starting Monday at 10:00AM, with the public getting dibs on tickets starting Tuesday at 10:00AM. Tickets can be purchased at the Pershing Center box office, any Ticketmaster location or by calling Ticketmaster at 475-1212. General admission for Friday’s game is $10, VIP seating $20.

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