Skip to main content
Football

Lincoln Defense Scores Three Times in Turkey Day Romp

Written by Ethan KasselPublished Nov. 25, 2022 • 3:23pm
Lincoln cornerback Xavier Solares (6) returns an interception for a 52-yard touchdown during the second quarter of the Mustangs' 44-7 win over Balboa in the 98th Turkey Day Game, the Academic Athletic Association football championship, at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, Calif. on Nov. 24, 2022. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

English

Xavier Solares returned two interceptions for touchdowns, etching both himself and his head coach into the record books as the Lincoln Mustangs dominated Balboa in the second half for a 44-7 victory in the 98th Turkey Day Game.

Solares’ show-stealing performance headlined the Mustangs’ 13th Turkey Day Game title, and their third in the last four seasons, a win that made head coach Phil Ferrigno the first coach to win nine San Francisco football championships.

“That’s like fantasy,” Ferrigno said of Solares. “He was a young boy coming to our team dinners when his brother was on the team.”

Solares’ older brother, Erick, was on Lincoln’s 2018 team that went 13-0.

Xavier’s first interception, a 52-yard return of a rushed pass after Diego Cristerna broke into the pocket, gave the Mustangs a 14-7 lead with 3:15 left in the first half. His second served as an exclamation point, an 80-yard race up the left sideline with 1:56 to go.

Lincoln team manager Edison Zhou congratulates cornerback Xavier Solares (6) after the Mustangs’ 44-7 win over Balboa in the 98th Turkey Day Game, the Academic Athletic Association football championship, at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, Calif. on Nov. 24, 2022. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

“The second one, I kind of baited him into it,” Xavier said. “I saw he kept trying to lick me off and hit that little curl route underneath. I took a little step, and I just jumped it as soon as I saw him snap his head back. It was off to the races after that.”

Lincoln (9-3) scored once more as time expired, with Jaylen Lopez tipping a pass before securing it at the 7-yard line and taking it into the end zone.

“We call him the sloth,” Ferrigno joked about Lopez, who had two defensive touchdowns in a 49-0 win over Washington on Oct. 28.

Lincoln running back Jamelle Newman (4) carries the ball during the second quarter of the Mustangs’ 44-7 win over Balboa in the 98th Turkey Day Game, the Academic Athletic Association football championship, at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, Calif. on Nov. 24, 2022. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

Offensively, the Mustangs found success by opening their playbook in the first quarter, then pounding the ball on the ground behind the trio of Cristerna, Jamelle Newman and Ricky Underwood. Cristerna scored on a pair of 15-yard touchdown runs in the second half.

His score with 9:17 left in the third quarter put the Mustangs up 22-7, capping off a five-play drive after Newman set them up in Balboa territory with a 46-yard kick return. Newman also had a 28-yard punt return in the first quarter to set up the opening score. Michael Simmons completed passes to Solares and Cristerna, then scored on a 1-yard sneak after Underwood converted a third-and-5.

Lincoln quarterback Michael Simmons (3) releases a pass during the first quarter of the 98th Turkey Day Game, the Academic Athletic Association football championship, at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, Calif. on Nov. 24, 2022. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

“I knew that they were focusing on the run,” said Simmons. “My receivers did what they were supposed to do and our passes were there where we needed them.”

Balboa (6-6) responded with a nine-play drive, tying the game at 7 on Edwin Maiava’s 30-yard pass to Nick Wong on fourth-and-2 with 1:08 left in the first quarter. It would be the Buccaneers’ lone score for the day.

Balboa wide receiver Nick Wong (2) crosses the goal line for a 30-yard touchdown during the first quarter of the Buccaneers’ 44-7 loss to Lincoln in the 98th Turkey Day Game, the Academic Athletic Association’s football championship, at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, Calif. on Nov. 24, 2022. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

“We made more mistakes than them,” Balboa head coach Fred Velasquez said. “We’ll be back. We don’t wanna rebuild, we wanna reload. If we train like we’re reloading, we’ll be back.”

By the time Lincoln had gone up two scores, Balboa’s hopes had all but disappeared. The Bucs struggled to move the ball quickly, including after Solares’ first pick-six. They held the ball for the remainder of the first half, but gained just two first downs over the last three minutes of the second quarter.

“I think the interception before halftime took some life out of us,” Velasquez said.

Dontae Allen-Wilson ran 19 times for 86 yards in the losing effort.

Andre Petrilli’s 27-yard field goal on the third play of the final quarter gave Lincoln a three-score lead, and Cristerna ran for his second touchdown after Myles Hamlin’s interception, the only one of four Lincoln takeaways that didn’t go for a pick-six.

“I can take as many people on me as possible,” Cristerna said after dragging tacklers throughout the day.

He ran eight times for 70 yards from the fullback position, Underwood carried 12 times for 76 yards and Newman racked up 61 yards on nine carries. Simmons ran three times for 14 yards and completed three of his four passes for 45, including a fourth-down conversion to Cruz Snopkowski to set up Cristerna’s second score.

Cristerna also had a game-high 11 tackles.

San Francisco mayor London Breed presents Lincoln linebacker Diego Cristerna (44) with his championship medal following the Mustangs’ 44-7 victory over Balboa in the 98th Turkey Day Game, the Academic Athletic Association football championship, at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, Calif. on Nov. 24, 2022. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

“He’s a really fun kid to be around,” Ferrigno said. “He’s kind of a knucklehead, we tease him a whole lot. In the last few weeks, he’s starting to figure out, ‘hey, maybe the coaches are smart, and if I just listen to them, I’ll be alright.’”

The Lincoln Mustangs pose with the Academic Athletic Association football championship trophy following their 44-7 win over Balboa in the 98th Turkey Day Game at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, Calif. on Nov. 24, 2022. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

The Mustangs will advance to a Northern California regional bowl next week, likely in one of the lowest two divisions. The past four Academic Athletic Association (AAA) champions have gone on to win state bowl games. Galileo won Division 6-A in 2017, Lincoln won 6-A in 2018 and 7-AA in 2019, and Balboa won the 7-A crown in 2021. An odd number of teams qualified for Northern California bowls in 2018, so the Mustangs advanced directly to the state title game. The 2019 unit beat Mariposa County on the road in a regional final before playing for the state championship, while Balboa advanced directly in 2021.

“I’m just glad we’re there. Whatever happens, happens,” Ferrigno said. “They move us down, they move us up, whatever.”

English

Ethan Kassel can be reached at [email protected]


Remember the 49ers’ First Super Bowl Victory With These Celebratory Photos From 1982

Remember the 49ers’ First Super Bowl Victory With These Celebratory Photos From 1982


The Key Weakness the 49ers Need To Overcome To Beat the Eagles

The Key Weakness the 49ers Need To Overcome To Beat the Eagles


Football Fans Are Unknowingly Taunting SF With Its Most Hated Nickname

Football Fans Are Unknowingly Taunting SF With Its Most Hated Nickname


St. Ignatius Head Football Coach John Regalia Steps Down

St. Ignatius Head Football Coach John Regalia Steps Down


Eric Swalwell and Ted Cruz Make Bizarre Twitter Bet Ahead of 49ers-Cowboys Playoff Game

Eric Swalwell and Ted Cruz Make Bizarre Twitter Bet Ahead of 49ers-Cowboys Playoff Game


Stay on top of what’s happening in your city

SF’s most important stories, delivered straight to your inbox



By clicking Subscribe you confirm you have read and agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge our Privacy Policy