Liam Morrissey carries Lincoln-Way East to victory

SHARE Liam Morrissey carries Lincoln-Way East to victory

Lincoln-Way East running back Liam Morrissey said he had “about two” carries to his name prior to the Griffins clash with Lincoln-Way Central on Friday.

But with starting running back Alex Kraft out with an injury, Morrissey turned into the Griffins’ bell cow, carrying the ball 53 times for 265 yards and three touchdowns as East held off Central 23-15 in a contest that ended late due to a third-quarter lightning delay.

“I guess I had an idea,” Morrissey said of his feature role, although he couldn’t hide his astonishment when told he had more than 50 carries.

Morrissey scored on runs of seven, three and 38 yards, with the last touchdown giving East (1-1) a 20-9 lead after an extra point from Nick Jenig.

“It’s not just one guy, but we do have a next-man-in philosophy,” East coach Rob Zvonar said. “I don’t think anyone exemplified that better than No. 22 Liam Morrissey — awfully proud of him.

“He’s just a big, tough back. A grinder who falls forward on contact. On a night when the passing game didn’t go like it went a week ago, he got the tough yards.”

Playing in soggy conditions, East quarterback Mike Weller went 3-for-19 for 25 yards. He also ran for 38 yards on nine carries. Yet with Morrissey pounding the ball, the Griffins didn’t need Weller’s arm.

On East’s first score, Morrissey was handed the rock on every play of the drive, going 64 yards on eight totes before hitting pay dirt.

The reason behind Morrissey’s success?

“The lineman: awesome blocking,” Morrissey said.

Central (1-1) trailed by as much as 14 in the fourth quarter until quarterback Connor Campbell led a nine-play, 70-yard drive and hit Nick Smith for a six-yard touchdown to make it 23-15.

“He’s an athlete and he’s a two-year starter,” Central coach Hud Venerable said of Campbell. “He showed some real leadership ability out there and that’s what we needed at that point.”

Central’s defense followed by forcing a three-and-out. Campbell (7-for-19, 87 yards) then led a potential game-tying drive into the red zone before being intercepted by Kyle Keuch with less about a minute remaining.

“I can’t explain why the first three quarters we played without a sense of urgency,” Venerable said. “But I thought the fourth quarter, that’s what I’d like this football team to be moving forward.”

Central had an early 9-0 lead after Sean Studer scored on an 86-yard run up the middle of the field. Then East’s line came to life behind the play of Ben Christensen, who was all over the field with a sack, tackle for loss and an interception.

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