SAN DIEGO — Despite fumbling to set up El Camino High School's first touchdown and despite watching his team turn the ball over for El Camino's second straight score, Lincoln running back Darrin Wagner said he was never worried.
"I knew we were going to win," Wagner said. "I knew it was only the first quarter (when El Camino led, 10-0), and I knew we still had three quarters to come back. We had to, so we could shut up the talk that North County teams can beat city teams on any night."
It looked as if that would be the scenario, but Lincoln dominated after a sloppy first period to beat El Camino, 34-10, in the second round of the San Diego Section 2-A football playoffs at Balboa Stadium Friday night.
Next week Lincoln (9-2) plays the winner of tonight's 2-A playoff between Mar Vista and San Pasqual. El Camino finished the season with a 5-6-2 mark.
Wagner's confidence stems from Lincoln's 22-21 victory over 3-A power Sweetwater earlier this season. In that game, Lincoln trailed 21-0.
Wagner rushed for 111 yards in 16 carries, including touchdown runs of five and two yards. Wagner opened the game by fumbling a pitch from quarterback Freddie Stokes, and El Camino's Kim De Los Reyes recovered on the Lincoln 17-yard line. El Camino had little success running against Lincoln, forcing Chris Arroyo to kick a 28-yard field goal four plays later.
El Camino scored again after a Stokes was sacked by El Camino's Eddie Miller and defensive back Cory Norfleet recovered on the El Camino 49. Seven plays later, Wildcat quarterback Eric Robinson scored on a 22-yard run.
Suddenly, El Camino had a 10-0 lead with 2:29 left in the first period.
From there, Lincoln dominated, scoring three straight touchdowns to take a 20-10 lead at the half.
"They (El Camino's players) were fired up when they were winning," Wagner said. "But they started to give up and began arguing with themselves after we passed them up. Right then, you could tell we were going to win."
Wagner easily ran through El Camino's defense, often dragging tacklers five yards or more before being brought down.
"If you can't tackle, you don't have much of a defense," El Camino Coach Herb Meyer said. "Fundamentally, we were very poor."
After its sluggish start, Lincoln seemed to do no wrong. Aside from Wagner's power running, Orlanzo Edwards rushed for 113 yards in 13 carries, including touchdown runs of one and five yards. Stokes completed 4 of 10 passes for 129 yards and rushed 7 yards for a touchdown.
Edwards said this victory should prove that this year's team is as good as the teams that won the last two 2-A championships.