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LU hopes third meeting with Ft. Hayes State is the charm (PODCAST)

Last two matchups have been oh so close

Mike Jones hopes the third time’s a charm.

A combined five points have separated his Lincoln Blue Tigers from Fort Hays State in two meetings under Jones.

Audio

Lincoln vs. Fort Hayes State Podcast (Soundcloud)

Lincoln (1-6, 0-6 MIAA) looks to get over that hump when it hosts Fort Hays State (3-4, 2-4 MIAA) at 2:37 p.m. today at Dwight T. Reed Stadium.

“I wouldn’t expect anything less. It’s going to be a close game,” Jones said. “I think we match up well with them, they match up well against us.

“We just have to start playing with confidence. Because we’ve been struggling, you play against really good teams and you get frustrated. ... We just have to go out there and believe we can play well and we’ll have a good chance to win.”

Lincoln dropped a 24-21 decision in 2011 at home before falling 28-26 on the road in 2012.

“The last two years have been about turnovers,” Jones said. “We turned the ball over the first year, they scored a touchdown and ended up beating us by three. Last year we got two punts blocked, they scored two touchdowns and they beat us by two.

“We have to eliminate the turnovers.”

That’s been a problem for the Blue Tigers lately, as they’ve coughed the ball up 14 times in the past four games.

“We’ve had too many turnovers the last four weeks,” Jones said. “We have to take care of the football.”

Fort Hays is on a little bit of a roll in recent weeks, having won three consecutive games after dropping its first four.

Jones attributes a lot of that success to the play of quarterback Treveon Albert, a sophomore signal-caller who is second on the team with 381 rushing yards and four touchdowns, which complements his 1,127 passing yards while completing 57.8 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

“The quarterback play has been great the last three games, I think that’s what it is,” Jones said of the Tigers’ resurgence. “We have to do a good job containing their quarterback and trying to keep them off the board.

“We have to make sure when they’re running their read-zone, whoever has the responsibility of the quarterback doesn’t jump the doggone running back, making sure he has his responsibility and takes care of the guy he’s in charge of.”

Keaton Callins projects to be Albert’s favorite target, as Callins leads the Tigers with 31 catches for 325 yards and five touchdowns.

Andre Smith is the go-to running back, averaging nearly 85 yards per game on the ground while racking up 593 rushing yards on the season.

“They’re running the ball exceptionally well,” Jones said.

Lincoln’s offense has had trouble putting points on the scoreboard in recent weeks, managing just 35 points its last three games.

“We need to score more points when we get in the red zone,” Jones said.

Lincoln’s 24-14 loss to Nebraska-Kearney last Saturday clinched a losing season for the Blue Tigers, dashing their dreams of their first winning season since 1972. Jones said there’s still plenty to work for though.

“We have four games left in the season,” he said. “We have a great bunch of seniors, we want to make sure we have them leave on a good note. We won’t have a winning season, unfortunately, but we can go out and win this game.

“We want to start winning at home. We haven’t had a home win yet.

“We’re moving in the right direction. What we have to do is see the rewards of what the guys have been doing as far as working. You see guys working in practice, playing hard. Guys have great attitudes, working on being better young men. We just want to see the rewards by winning football games, and we haven’t seen the rewards we would like.”

Maybe the third time will be a charm.

Access the audio podcast here if player fails to load automatically.

Alternatively, some devices may be able to listen or download the podcast here.

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