Lincoln Park’s nine-point lead with 10:15 left was down to two with 2:20 remaining when Gibraltar Carlson recovered an onside kick at midfield Friday night.
The Marauders moved the ball to Lincoln Park’s 16-yard line with 12 seconds remaining, then lined up for a potential game-winning 33-yard field goal.
Anyone who had suffered through Lincoln Park’s state-record 66-game losing streak that didn’t end until Week 6 two seasons ago had seen this movie before and the ending never was pretty.
But then the snap from center was high, and the holder lofted a pass into the air.
“I was outside of the wing to the opposite side,” Lincoln Park junior defensive back Devon Carson said. “I thought they tried to throw a screen. I read it, came up and got my hands on the ball.”
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Carson knocked the ball to the ground and bedlam erupted on the Lincoln Park sideline.
“I’ve had some knockdowns where the game’s been on the line,” Carson said. “But nothing better than this one.”
None was better because besides the game being on the line, a state playoff berth was a stake.
Two seasons removed from that losing streak, the Railsplitters earned a spot in next week’s state playoffs with a wild 21-19 victory over Carlson.
Lincoln Park (6-3), which has made the playoffs three times in school history, put itself in position to win when senior quarterback Steve Glenn engineered a magnificent 16-play, 85-yard drive that ate 8:59 off the clock.
It was the kind of drive that other teams used to have against Lincoln Park.
Glenn was terrific on the possession, breaking three tackles on one play and turning a potential 6-yard loss into a 9-yard gain on third-and-2.
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“That was just a messed-up snap, and I just made a play out of it,” Glenn said. “I was just being a football player … just using my heart.”
He also was using an injured left ankle that coach Jamie Grignon estimated left Glenn at about 75% healthy.
“Adrenaline got me at 100%,” Glenn said, laughing. “I didn’t feel my ankle at all.”
Twice in the drive, Glenn drew Carlson (5-4) offside, once on third down and once on fourth-and-5 with the ball at the 50.
Finally, Glenn finished the long march with a 12-yard keeper on an option play for a 21-12 lead with 10:15 left.
“We ran our hokey play where I read the guy, and he bit the first time, and I gave it to our back,” Glenn said. “So I let him bite again. I read it for a little bit longer than usual and just took it and ran.”
He ran all the way to the state playoffs, a tremendous accomplishment for the players and Grignon, who took over with the losing streak at 61.
But this team, this season, was nothing like the past.
“Right from the start, that first game when we beat Woodhaven, it seemed this team was different,” Grignon said. “They didn’t give up. Woodhaven had the winning drive going, and we came up with an interception.”
The Lincoln Park players gathered around Grignon after Carson knocked down that final pass.
None of the players have practiced on the Monday following the ninth game.
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.