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Capitols host Tri-City in Regular Season Finale

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

The Lincoln Capitols attempt to claim the NIFL’s Pacific North title Friday night when they meet the Tri-City Diesel in the final regular season game for both teams. With a 9-4 record, the Capitols hold a one-game edge over Omaha & Sioux City for the division crown after the Bandits lost a home decision to the Diesel last Saturday night.

Lincoln, meanwhile, set the NIFL scoring record, racking up 120 points in a 120-15 victory over the RiverCity Renegades at the Pershing Center. The Capitols defense forced four turnovers, registered four safeties, knocked RiverCity quarterback Nick Lurty from the game in the third quarter and held the Renegades scoreless over the final 40:20 of the contest to propel Lincoln to the win. Lincoln recovered from early 6-0 and 9-7 deficits to rattle off an unheard of 97 unanswered points. Capitols’ defensive end Kareem Sears played a stellar contest, scoring 11 points (two safeties, fumble recovery in the end zone). Sears made a season-best seven tackles, five for losses, and, considering the Capitols scored touchdowns following his two safeties, was responsible for 25 of Lincoln’s points.

Sears’ fumble recovery for a score was one of three Lincoln would claim. Defensive back Ben Jones scored the Capitols final touchdown of the night when he returned a fumble 13-yards for a score with 3:00 to play. Jones also picked off a pass and returned it 41-yards to set up a fourth quarter score. The other RiverCity fumble was picked up by defensive lineman Trent Toline at the Renegades’ 2-yard line, and one-play later the Capitols eclipsed the century mark.

Jones’ fourth quarter interception was one of three RiverCity passes picked off by the Capitols’ defense Saturday night, as Ty Goode and Travis Kopf each garnered one. Kopf made 13 tackles, the fifth time this season he has registered double-digit stops in a game. Linebacker Darrell Jack finished with 14 tackles to lead the Capitols, and marking his fifth game in double-figures in tackles.

Running back Rayshawn Askew carried the ball 20 times for a season-high 112 yards and seven touchdowns as the Capitols improved to 6-0 at the Pershing Center this season. Askew had matched his season-best of four touchdowns before halftime, having scored Lincoln’s first three of the night. Quarterback Josh Luedtke followed his seven touchdown night against Bismarck on June 14th with five more and finished 10-of-18 for 118 yards. Luedtke spread the football around, hitting four different receivers for scores, including Ryan Hinske and Derrick Smith, Jr., twice each. Tyrone Tyler and Kwanzi Watts rounded out the receiving scores, each catching a TD from Luedtke.

Tri-City ran it’s winning streak to four games, scoring with 41 seconds remaining to take a 44-37 victory at Sioux City. The Diesel took advantage of four Bandit turnovers, including two in the final two minutes, to improve to 7-6 and match the Capitols’ mark in the division (5-2). Defensive back Charles Verdone, who has made a habit of late game interceptions this season, picked off Sioux City quarterback Jarrod DeGeorgia with 1:49 to play, and returned the football 27-yards to set up Justin Coleman’s second quarterback keeper for a touchdown. Following the Diesel kickoff, defensive lineman Brad Kjar forced a DeGeorgia fumble and linebacker Eric Ryan covered it up to seal the Tri-City win.

The Diesel claimed a 21-7 advantage after one period, but were limited to a pair of field goals in the second and third quarters combined, allowing the Bandits to take the lead with 1:00 remaining in the 3rd. Tri-City answered with a pair of touchdowns, including the game-winner, and a 35-yard field goal by Darrin Tankersley in the fourth quarter, overcoming a tough evening offensively. Coleman was limited to 9-of-21 for 131 yards and one interception, and the Diesel rushing offense ran to 58 yards. Receiver Mitch Ables led the Diesel with four catches for 65 yards and a touchdown.

Defensive back David Rausch recovered a pair of Bandit turnovers, intercepting one DeGeorgia pass and picking up a fumble forced by defensive lineman David Stricklin to help key the Diesel defense.

Friday’s showdown is a rematch of the Diesel’s final home game of the season a month ago. Tri-City recovered from being held scoreless for 26 minutes in the second half to register a pair of scores in the final four minutes and claimed a 44-41 win as a potential game-tying field goal by Capitols’ kicker Chace Long banged off a ventilation duct above the floor of the Tri-City Arena. Long missed four of his six attempts in the contest, as the Capitols failed to put Tri-City away in the second half.

Wide receiver Ryan Hinske, playing in his first game in Lincoln, scored a trio of touchdowns, finishing with six catches for 67 yards. Quarterback Josh Luedtke completed 15-of-26 for four touchdowns and 176 yards. Running back Rayshawn Askew kept his string of scoring in every game but one this season alive by running for one touchdown and finished with 57 yards on 16 carries. The Capitols’, though, couldn’t overcome 283 yards of offense put up by the Diesel, 189 through the air. Former Nebraska-Kearney standout Justin Coleman matched Luedtke with four touchdown passes on a night that saw him complete 17-of-33 passes attempted for 189 yards. Receiver Mitch Ables made clutch catch after clutch catch, finishing with ten catches for 107 yards and pair of touchdowns. Running backs Andre Hatcher and Sherman Jones combined for 100 yards rushing to pace the Diesel, who improved to 5-6 on the season.

Notes: Saturday’s game saw the Capitols eclipse a number of league-wide bests for this season. Running back Rayshawn Askew’s 7 rushing touchdowns and 42 points scored are the best in the NIFL this season, and kicker Chace Long matched his season high and the league-best mark of 16 points scored kicking. Long is tied with Adam Hicks of Sioux City and Whitney Hillin of Lake Charles for that mark...Long’s 16 points Saturday all came on point after attempts, also a league-best for the season...The former Nebraska kickoff specialist is leading the NIFL in PAT’s made (75), PAT percentage (92.6) field goals made (30) and field goal percentage (61.2)...Askew vaulted over Tennessee running back Mike Cosey into second on the league rushing chart with 794 yards...Askew moved into third in the league’s scoring chase with his seven touchdowns, while Long is ranked seventh...The Capitols limited RiverCity to a paltry 1.4 yards per play in Saturday’s win, the second time in three games the Renegades had been limited to that mark...The Renegades finished Saturday’s game with a -43 rushing total...Tri-City quarterback Justin Coleman had the league’s best passing day, in terms of yardage, when he threw for 309 yards in the Diesel’s win over Wyoming on April 13th. Coleman is also part of the tandem for longest completion in the league this season, hitting Greg Albright on a 48-yard strike against Sioux City on April 28th...Diesel defensive back Charles Verdone has the league’s second-longest interception return for a score, a 49-yarder that gave the Diesel a win over Sioux Falls to begin the four-game winning streak Tri-City is currently riding...Verdone is tied for second in the league with 7 interceptions, followed by fellow Diesel DB Jeremy Jenson with six... Lincoln ranks third in the NIFL averaging 50.7 points a game, while Tri-City is 16th at 37.2 points a contest...Both teams fall in the middle of the pack in points allowed (Lincoln 38.5, Tri-City 39.5)...The two team’s offenses are averaging over 225 yards a contest (Lincoln 230.7, Tri-City 225.3), also placing each in the middle of the pack...The Capitols are averaging 18.6 yards per kickoff return, second best in the league.

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