SAN JOSE — After decades of opting to play in the Big Bone Game on Thanksgiving instead of taking aim at the Central Coast Section playoffs, the Lincoln Lions have a chance to reach the postseason for the first time in program history after moving their rivalry game to September.
On Thursday night, they took a significant step towards that first postseason bid, trouncing Piedmont Hills 47-0.
“We’re trying to go to the playoffs,” Lincoln quarterback Tayden Phillips said. “We gave up Big Bone to do it.”
Phillips completed 8-of-14 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown but did the bulk of his work on the ground, amassing 162 yards on just six carries, four of which ended in the end zone. He opened the scoring with a 44-yard score just over four minutes in, then hit Jose Orendain for a 56-yard touchdown pass to make it a 14-0 lead before the end of the first quarter.
He added a 10-yard touchdown on the opening play of the second quarter, scored from 22 yards out with 22 seconds left in the first half to take a 33-0 lead and broke off a 69-yard run on the opening play of the second half for his final score of the night.
“He’s a lot like the Piedmont Hills quarterbacks used to be,” Lincoln head coach Kevin Collins said of Phillips. “They could run and throw.”
A traditionally run-heavy program, Lincoln (4-2, 2-1 BVAL-Mount Hamilton) dominated the line of scrimmage, outgaining the Pirates 410-57 on the ground and 538-128 overall.
“We had some opportunities to make plays and just didn’t do it,” Piedmont Hills head coach Matt Kiesle said. “We expected to play better. They always play snap-to-whistle, and they do it really well, and we couldn’t stay on our blocks. We had the right guys blocked, but they just finished plays better than we did.”
Missing defensive end John Sepulveda and lineman Joseph Oliveira to wrist injuries, plus a second starting lineman to a suspension, certainly didn’t do Piedmont Hills (3-3, 1-2) any favors. Quarterback Ray Heredia was constantly running for his life, throwing for 71 yards and running for another 23. Isaac Nirza ran for 41 yards on 16 carries, while Roland Legaspi had a pair of carries for 14 yards, a 39-yard reception and a 22-yard punt return.
Junior running back Salvador Espinoza outgained the Pirates all by himself, with 167 yards on 14 carries. He scored on a 45-yard run to make it a 26-0 game with 4:44 left in the second quarter, and Rayden Costillo rounded out the scoring with a 26-yard touchdown late in the third. The fourth quarter was played with a running clock.
The Lions return to action next Friday at home against Silver Creek (3-3, 1-2). Piedmont Hills will be on the road again next Friday, paying a visit to Oak Grove (1-4, 0-3). Road trips have been unfriendly to the Pirates so far, losing both away games by a combined score of 75-7.