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Photo by Burrill Strong.

Story by Allen Wright, photo gallery by Burrill Strong

It’s been 3 years since the Chelsea Bulldogs have lost a game at Jerry Niehaus Stadium, the place they call home.

The last team to defeat them there was the Lincoln Railsplitters with a 28-21 victory midway through the 2014 season. And they did it again this year on Friday night defeating the Bulldogs 26-14.  

“I feel blessed,” Lincoln quarterback Cam Thompson said after his team’s victory. “I’ve never beaten Chelsea in a football game.” 

Lincoln took the opening kickoff right down the field by mixing up the plays and using just a few minutes off the clock. Chelsea did just the same, driving the ball successfully down the field and quarterback Thomas Steele finished the drive running off left tackle for the touchdown to tie the game at 7.

The Chelsea defense was keeping Lincoln dual threat quarterback Thompson contained as Ronnie Buford was all over him in the first quarter. But after a Bulldog fumble gave Lincoln great field position, they capitalized on it quickly to take the lead on only 2 plays in 20 seconds.

The Bulldogs blocked the extra point and found themselves only down by 6 points heading into the second quarter.

The Bulldogs moved the ball down the field again and had to settle for a field goal attempt. But Lincoln was able to get a hand on Andrew Lewis’ 35-yard attempt. The Bulldog defense did its job again as Buford was able to tip Thompson’s pass with a huge leap on third-and- long causing a quick 3 and out. But Lincoln was able to get the ball back after an interception and took over at the Bulldogs’ 44-yard line. Lincoln was able to move the ball into the end zone as Thompson scrambled 14 yards for his second touchdown of the night. The 2-point conversion was no good as Owen Nikischer sniffed out the play and was able to bring Lincoln down in the backfield, well short of the conversion.

Chelsea would go into the halftime down 19-7.

The Bulldog defense was strong in the second half with Braden Steele picking Thompson off and returning it to Lincoln territory setting the Bulldogs up with a good opportunity. The home team would move the ball, but give it back to Lincoln after going for it on fourth down and 9, but Steele came up just short on his run.   

With time winding down in the fourth quarter, Lincoln’s Jacob Campbell picked off a pass and returned it 26 yards for the score and with the extra point, the Railsplitters had a dominating 26-7 lead. 

The Bulldogs kept fighting though as they drove down the field 70 yards and 8 plays and Thomas Steele made every defender miss as he scrambled to the end zone from 11 yards out for his second touchdown of the night.   

“They outplayed us,” Chelsea Head Coach Brad Bush said after the game. “The turnovers and the lack of execution in the red zone hurt us. I’ve said that I think these guys (Lincoln) are the most talented team in the league, I don’t think they’ve played up to their capabilities last week but they simply outplayed us no question.”

Lincoln goes to 1-2 (1-1 in conference) on the season while the Bulldogs go to 2-1 (1-1 in conference) against three very solid teams. 

“Practices, the first two weeks, we took things for granted,” Thompson said referring to his team’s first two losses. “We came out and said we got to finish, we got it done. I feel confident about the rest of the season, we just have to go 1-0 every week. That’s the goal.”

Lincoln will host winless Dexter next week while Chelsea will travel to Tecumseh for a 7:15 p.m. kickoff against the Indians. 

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