The matchup between Langston and Lincoln in the Missouri Classic on Saturday provided a game that would easily fit the bill of an “instant classic.”

The Lions overcame a 21-point deficit and defeated the Blue Tigers, 49-48, in Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

The deciding factor in the game was a blocked extra point attempt late in the contest as Lincoln looked to tie the game.

LU coach Dwone Sanders said he was thrilled with the win, and the entirety of the experience was incredible.OSB-LU-150

“It was exciting,” Sanders said.  “I can’t say enough about this weekend with the Langston fans and the Lincoln fans. It was a nail-biting episode.

The game was tied twice in the first quarter, but the Blue Tigers rattled off three consecutive touchdowns to take a commanding lead at 35-14 with just four minutes gone in the second stanza.

Sanders said he prepares his team for settings like this.

“I always tell my kids to fell comfortable in an uncomfortable situation,” Sanders said.  “And most definitely the first two quarters were very uncomfortable for us.

“The Langston defense rarely gives up that many points in a total game. However, we didn’t start off playing fast.  And I told the guys to calm down and to relax themselves at halftime, to focus on the little things, and to allow the process to take its place.”

He said the defense jumped some routes and blew coverages early, but made adjustments specifically with the linebackers in the second half and slowed down the Blue Tigers running game.

The modifications the Lions made at the break made all the difference, not only on defense, but also for the offense.

“Offensively, I told Mark Wright, Jr., Sheldon Augustine, Devon Bailey – those guys had great games – I told them to settle down and just keep doing what they do on offense and to stay focused.  (The defense) will eventually stop them; we just didn’t stop them in the first half.”

Sanders said he knew it would eventually work to their favor.

“We made our adjustments and stopped them, but they never stopped us.”

He specifically lauded the praise of his sophomore quarterback.  Wright was 15-of-31 passing for 245 yards and three touchdowns.  He also carried the ball for 98 yards and a TD.

Sanders recounted that Wright let him know he would do his part.

Mark Wright, Jr. leads the Langston Lions onto the field.  Photo courtesy LU Sports Information.

Mark Wright, Jr. leads the Langston Lions onto the field. Photo courtesy LU Sports Information.

“He assured me that if we would make that defense keep working hard, he was going to score the ball.

“And they still haven’t found an answer for Mark Wright.”

The Lions running game stepped up in the second half as well, when the Blue Tigers were starting to slow down.  The final three Langston scores were rushing touchdowns, with Kendrick Roberson taking in two and Kievon Jackson scoring another.

But what might normally be thought of as routine, turned out to be the key play.  And Sanders said this is not out of the ordinary.

“We work on it all the time.  People don’t believe that you actually work on those things, but we do.

Sanders said All-American linebacker Chace Green talked up the team getting ready for the PAT attempt and that the unit did exactly what it was supposed to do in pulling the offensive guard enough to make room for Evan Scott.

“Scott came through clear and jumped as high as he could and he blocked that attempt.  And I’ll tell you what, that was a tremendous burden off our shoulders.”

It was the first season opening victory for Langston since 2011, when the Lions took down another NCAA Division II opponent, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 19-12.

Langston is on the road in Missouri again on Saturday, taking on Truman State in Kirksville, Mo., at 7 p.m.

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  1. […] Wright, Jr. led the Langston Lions to a thrilling 49-48 victory on Saturday over Lincoln University at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas […]

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