- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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HOMEWOOD, Ill. -- Lincoln-Way East wasn’t anywhere near its best Friday as it fumbled, snapped balls too high for even the tallest of punters and miscued in a variety of others ways.
But like a little kid who calls his bigger brother to protect him in a fight, the Griffins again turned to Blake Winkler and JJ Robertson to save the day.
Winkler connected with Robertson five times for 226 yards and two touchdowns, and the duo led No. 3 Lincoln-Way East to a 38-21 road win over No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor.
“Blake to JJ, that’s something we’ve been saying for two years now, and hopefully it’ll keep up because it’s a pretty special combo,” Lincoln-Way East coach Rob Zvonar said.
Homewood-Flossmoor (2-1) was able to move the ball against Lincoln-Way East all evening, but it came with short pass after short pass. The time of possession fell well in the Vikings’ favor, but their problem was Lincoln-Way East (3-0) was able to accomplish what they had in 10 plays in a couple of plays.
Winkler and Robertson hooked up on three occasional for 50 or more yards. The first pass Winkler hit Robertson with was for 50 yards, and two plays later Tyler Starke scored on a one-yard run.
Later in the first half, Winkler threw a quick ball out to Robertson near the right sideline. Robertson zigzagged his way by a few defensive backs and took it to the house for a 66-yard touchdown to give Lincoln-Way East a 14-13 lead. It wouldn’t trail again.
“We needed that,” Winkler said. “We had been waiting for that the whole game. We needed that spark. JJ made a great play.”
Both did equal work on their next big pass play early in the third quarter. Robertson sprinted past his defender, and Winkler dropped the ball to him right in stride for a 67-yard touchdown. The Griffins went ahead 24-13 and kept a double-digit advantage the rest of the way.
“We know we have to be on the same page,” Winkler said. “It shows in this game and in all games. It’s great having him out there. I know we have a great trust.”
Homewood-Flossmoor coach Craig Buzea didn’t give any excuses.
“It comes to a point where their guy is better than your guys,” Buzea said. “Their receivers are better than our defensive backs.”
Winkler finished 9-of-17 passing for 291 yards and two touchdowns.
Homewood-Flossmoor quarterback Tim Williams kept up with Winkler for most of the day. Williams took advantage of the Griffins’ soft defense with quick, short passes. It wasn’t until Lincoln-Way East started pulling away in the second half that Williams began trying to do much and started throwing interceptions.
Williams finished 29-of-42 for 281 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.
Homewood-Flossmoor trailed 17-13 at halftime, but came out in the third quarter and efficiently moved the ball down the field. But after seven plays and three first downs, the Vikings mishandled a handoff and Lincoln-Way recovered the fumble. Three plays later, Winkler and Robertson got together for a touchdown.
“Biggest play of the game right there,” Buzea said of the fumble. “There’s no question. We were moving the ball. We came out of the locker room doing exactly what we wanted to do. They didn’t do anything. We just dropped the ball. I have no idea what happened.”
Homewood-Flossmoor’s Sheldon Jones caught 10 passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns. Sean Jones had nine receptions for 88 yard and one touchdown.
Starke scored two touchdowns for the Griffins. Lincoln-Way East fullback Nick Colangelo rushed for 102 yards and one touchdown on nine carries in the second half.
Lincoln-Way East kicker William Will made a 42-yard field goal.