JERSEY CITY, NJ - Lincoln High School sophomore Frank Darby caught three touchdowns to lead the Lions to a 28-26 victory over Madison on Saturday in the opening round of the state tournament.

The Dodgers were down by eight with just under two minutes left in the game when Noah Gertler broke for a 60-yard touchdown. Madison needed the two-point conversion to tie the game, but the Lions defense stepped up and stopped quarterback A.J. Schmitz on a keeper play.

Madison still had some fight after they managed to recover an onside kick, but backup quarterback Sam North coughed up the football while he was scrambling, and Lincoln ran the clock out.

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“We came here to win this game and we fell short,” Dodgers’ head coach Chris Kubik said. “The guys battled all season, but they (Lincoln) made big plays when they needed to.”

Lincoln got the scoring started with a touchdown pass to Darby in the first quarter, but Madison responded with a score of its own when Schmitz pounded a one-yard rush at the goal line.

The Lions regained the lead in the second quarter after Terry Linyard picked off Schmitz which set up a 62-yard touchdown pass from Darius Wade to Darby on a go route.

On Lincoln’s next possession, the Dodgers blocked a punt which gave them a field position advantage. Madison capitalized on the opportunity and scored on a Schmitz scramble from 15 yards out.

Darby continued to dominate as he caught a 47-yard pass to get the Lions into the redzone and found the endzone from 15 yards out for his third score. Tyrik Darby ran in the two-point conversion to make the score 22-16.

“Our coaches did a tremendous job of scouting Madison and we executed,” Darby said.

After another blocked punt by Madison, Pat Zimmerman broke through a hole up the middle and ran for a 23-yard score.

Darby scored the Lions’ final touchdown on a 15-yard run at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

The Lions will play Mountain Lakes next Friday night in the semifinal round of the tournament.