One last roadtrip
06/06/02 Capitols Press Release
Having moved atop the NIFL's Pacific North standings with a win over LaCrosse last Friday night, the Lincoln Capitols play their final regular season road game when they visit the Tri-City Diesel for a 7:35 PM kickoff Saturday night.
Lincoln's return to the Pershing Center was a victorious one, as the Capitols handed the LaCrosse Night Train a 44-20 decision behind four touchdowns by running back Rayshawn Askew. Askew, who had fallen out of the league's top ten in scoring a week ago after being held scoreless in Lincoln's road win over Sioux City, opened the scoring Friday night with a 34-yard reception and ran for three more scores as Lincoln improved to 7-3 overall and 5-1 in the division. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native ran for 75 yards on 17 carries and the Capitols racked up 90 yards rushing in the contest. Askew also recovered a fumble on special teams to help the Capitols build on a 21-12 halftime lead.
Quarterback Josh Luedtke continued his consistent season, throwing for 167 yards and a pair of touchdowns on a 14-of-26 night with no interceptions. Luedkte found Zach Sangster five times for 57 yards before Sangster left in the third quarter with a knee injury. Damon Benning made four catches for 34 yards, and Derrick Smith, Jr., scored his first receiving touchdown of the season, a 16-yard reception in the third period. Smith also recovered a fumble in the second half.
Defensively, the Capitols held LaCrosse to just 38 yards of offense while pitching a shutout in the third quarter. Linebacker Darrell Jack and strong safety Travis Kopf each made double-digit tackles in the effort to control quarterback Marrial Shields.. Kopf finished with 16 stops and Jack matched his season best with 15 tackles as the Lincoln defense limited LaCrosse to 211 yards. Shields was limited to 51 yards rushing, but threw for 110, hitting 11-of-25, was intercepted once and threw for a pair of touchdowns.
While sitting at 4-6 overall, the Diesel have upended playoff-hopeful teams in their last two home games. Tri-City knocked off Omaha on May 10th and Sioux Falls on May 24th, avenging road losses from earlier in the season. Against Sioux Falls, a Charles Verdone 49-yard interception return for a touchdown with just 49 seconds remaining in the game made the difference. Verdone has picked off seven passes this season, but the return was his first for a score.
Former Nebraska-Kearney quarterback Justin Coleman took over at quarterback seven games ago for the Diesel, and had led the team to a 3-4 mark. The four-year starter for the Lopers amassed 11,000 yards passing and 99 TD passes during his collegiate career and participated in the NFL Draft combine last spring before spending time with the Arena Football League's Chicago Rush and Indiana Firebirds. Coleman finished second in the Harlon Hill voting at the end of a senior season in which he led the Lopers to a 7-3 record. Coleman has completed 58-percent of his throws for 21 touchdowns and only five interceptions. The 6' 5" McCook native is averaging 172 yards a game throwing the football, good for fourth in the NIFL.
Wide receiver Greg Albright also ranks among the league leaders, averaging nearly 60 yards receiving in eight games, but the leading rusher, Dale Van Housen, has been shelved with injury the past four games. Receiver Tyrone Thomas, second on the team in receptions, has sat out the last three games for the Diesel, who had last weekend off in preparation for Saturday's game with the Capitols.
Saturday's game is the first of two meetings this season between the Capitols and Diesel. The return engagement will Friday evening, July 5th, at the Pershing Center...The contest also marks the first time the Bruce Bailey-owned teams meet. Bailey also owns the Rapid City Red Dogs who, with the Diesel, began play in the NIFL last season. The Diesel play at the Tri-City Arena, which was designed by Lincoln architectural firm Design Associates...Askew's four touchdown night on Friday propelled him into a tie for fifth on the NIFL's scoring list. The running back from Elizabeth City State of North Carolina has scored 18 touchdowns, tops on the team. Kicker Chace Long is seventh, wide receiver Damon Benning tied for eighth on the league's scoring list, making the Capitols the only team in the league to have three players in the top ten...Benning ranks second in the league in receptions, having made 52 catches in nine games, trailing Sioux Falls' Corey Walker's 61 through 10 games...Long's 63-percent average on field goals this season is tops in the league, and his 90-percent clip of hitting points after ranks third...Jack's second double-digit tackle game of the season moved him into second on the league's leaderboard. The Milwaukee, Wisconsin, native has made 93 stops this season, trailing linebacker Don Hilsenroth of Sioux Falls' 101 through 11 games...Kopf ranks sixth on the same list with 87 tackles, tied with Tri-City's Eric Ryan...The Capitols' offensive line has not allowed a sack in five games. The string dates back to Lincoln's loss at Bismarck April 27th, a game in which the Roughriders racked up three. The streak coincides with LG Pat Schaben's return to the lineup after an ankle injury.