Blue Tigers clash with Miners in season finale

Final chance

The Lincoln football team has one last chance to get it right today.

Today’s game against Missouri S&T (2 p.m. kickoff) marks the fifth home game of the season for Lincoln, and the Blue Tigers have won just one of them. And that game, a 23-22 win over Oklahoma Panhandle on Sept. 18, wasn’t exactly what the Blue Tigers had in mind.

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Lincoln University Blue Tiger O'Hare Fluellen is tackled after intercepting a pass Saturday at Reed Stadium. To view this and other photographs, please visit www.newstribune.com/photos.

“Nobody’s seen us play very well at home,” Lincoln interim head coach Thomas Howard said. “... It’s crazy, you usually don’t have this issue at home. We’ve been road warriors. Even though we haven’t gotten any road victories, we have performed better.

“Everybody (at home) wants to see you do well and I think the guys have been trying too hard to do well.”

Howard added the Blue Tigers (1-9) can’t come out flat against the Miners (3-7) at Dwight T. Reed Stadium, which is what they did last week against Azusa Pacific.

“The key is to be prepared to play,” he said. “At different points in the game last week, we just weren’t prepared. That team wasn’t that much better than us, we just weren’t prepared.”

The Blue Tigers will also be trying to snap a seven-game losing streak, and they’ve also lost 24 of their last 25.

“We’re trying to keep their spirits up and get this last one,” Howard said. “We want to finish the last one with a ‘W.’”

Today’s contest comes against a team the Blue Tigers are familiar with, but the Miners feature some new wrinkles.

“They’re a decent football team,” Howard said. “They have a lot of the same players returning from last year (a 35-14 win for the Miners in Rolla), so we know their team.

“They have a different coaching staff, but they’re running some similar things. They still throw the football all over the place, but they’re running the ball a little more. Their quarterbacks are more athletic than in past, where before they had more of your typical pocket passers.”

When the Blue Tigers have the ball, they’re expecting to see a variety of defenses against their spread-option offense.

“They’re a multi-set team, they’ll give us lot of different looks,” Howard said. “They’ll create defenses against us, so our offense has been preparing for a 4-4 (set), a 4-3, a 3-3-5.”

Howard said Lincoln comes into the game relatively injury free, but a key one popped up this week.

“We’re rather healthy, but the tough thing is Alex Campbell, who’s been filling in at kicker, got hurt in practice,” Howard said. “So kickoffs and extra points are going to be kind of interesting. (Defensive back) O’Hara Fluellen may be kicking off.”

Heading in to the season, the Blue Tigers thought they had addressed the kicking and punting spots.

“One kicker had an eligibilty issue and hasn’t played, and he’s our best kicker,” Howard said. “You see him out there in practice and you’re like, ‘Man, I wish we had him out there.’

“Then with (Josh) Blanton getting hurt, that killed us. The kicking game was one of the parts we were lacking last year, and now we’re back to the kids we used last year.”

Notes: Today is Senior Day, and the Blue Tigers will say goodbye to eight seniors. ... Missouri S&T’s wins have come against Wisconsin-La Crosse, Kentucky Wesleyan and Saint Joseph’s. The Miners’ losses have come to Emporia State, Drake, Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Northwestern Oklahoma State, South Alabama, St. Francis (Ind.) and Urbana (Ohio). ... The teams have one common opponent, Saint Joseph’s. Lincoln lost 58-22 to the Pumas, while the Miners beat the Pumas 27-21. ... The Miners are led by first-year head coach David Brown. He came to S&T after four seasons as an assistant coach at Ohio University. ... Last week’s win over Saint Joseph’s helped S&T clinch a share of the title in the four-team Great Lakes Football Conference with Urbana. Lincoln was a member of the GLFC from 2006-09. ... S&T leads the all-time series 19-9 and have won the last four, taking them by a combined margin of 200-31. ... The Blue Tigers’ last win over the Miners came in 1989 by a 21-14 score.

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