SAN DIEGO — Vic Player, Lincoln High School's football coach, boiled it down to miscommunication. It was a missed attempt at a two-point conversion.
Regardless of the cause, Hoover upset previously unbeaten Lincoln, 21-20, in a City Central League game Friday at Hoover.
Again, regardless of the cause, Hoover Coach John Johnson called this the biggest victory for his team in the post-1960s era. Entering the game, Lincoln was ranked second in the San Diego Section and first in 2-A in the state by Cal-Hi Sports of Sacramento.
The two-point conversion attempt came after Lincoln scored on a 39-yard pass from quarterback Fred Stokes to wide receiver Patrick Rowe with 4:06 to play. With Hoover ahead, 21-20, Player decided to go for the victory. After all, he had an offense which had been averaging 51.1 points per game.
Player signaled the play to Stokes. It was a roll-out pattern that had been effective most of the game.
Stokes was busy studying the Hoover defense and missed the signal. This was the first missed communication.
At the line, Stokes called an audible for a dive play--but the offensive line thought it heard the signal for trap blocking.
Consequently, Kevin Key was smothered by the Hoover defensive line at the one-yard line.
Thus, Hoover, 3-0 in league play and 7-1 overall, is tied for first place in the City Central League with Crawford. Lincoln (2-1, 7-1) drops to third place.
It was the first City Central League loss for Player, who is in his 10th season with Lincoln.
Two minutes later, Lincoln had another chance to score. It had moved to the Hoover 25 before being stopped by an interception by John Roots.
This was Lincoln's sixth turnover, negating the fact that it had an advantage in total offense of 404 yards to 206 and first downs of 14 to 3.
Hoover had no turnovers.
"We made very few mistakes and that was our key all week," Johnson said. "We've been fumbling a lot this season and in a championship game like this, we didn't fumble. That has to say something."
Lincoln's first possession ended as did its last, on an interception by Roots. Hoover did not score, but the script would become repititious.
Early in the second quarter, Stokes fumbled while being sacked by linebacker Chris Johnson and cornerback Bracey Simmons recovered on the Lincoln 30. On the next play, Hoover quarterback Michael Walker scored on a 30-yard option run around the left end to tie, 7-7. Lincoln had scored earlier in the second quarter on a four-yard run by Marcus Hopkins.
Hoover snapped the tie midway through the third period after Johnson recovered Damon Candler's fumble on the 48. The next play, Walker connected with Roots on a 48-yard touchdown pass and Hoover led, 14-7.
After Hoover's Sherman Robinson scored on a three-yard run, Lincoln narrowed the margin to 21-14 on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Keith Mitchell to Rowe.
The score stayed there until Lincoln cut the margin to 21-20 and then failed to either communicate or convert.