Lincoln County needed to win just one more game to make to the playoffs, which they missed out on last year.

Junior quarterback McClain O’Connor made sure they got it. He ran and passed the Lynx to an important 26-18 win over visiting Needles to secure Lincoln a berth in this years playoffs.

O’Connor completed 13 of 23 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown, and added 135 yards and two scores on the ground to lift the Lynx (5-3, 4-2 Division III Southern) over the Mustangs (6-2, 4-2). He said the Lynx, leading by five after halftime, just played harder. “We wanted to win so we played harder.”

Lincoln used the passing attack more than normal and O’Connor said, “Their underneath five and outs were open all night, so we just took advantage of it. Their corners played really soft.”

Preston Robbins had 60 yards on 15 carries for Lincoln County, which led 12-7 at halftime. Cody Thornock had a 14-yard TD catch, and Jordan Harrington hauled in eight passes for 91 yards for the Lynx.

Robbins said they had been preparing all week to open the game more with the passing. “Our out routes were working real well, the trips, and it opened up our passing game a little bit, seeing there was a weakness there and took advantage of it.”

Needles had a one game lead over the Lynx going into the game, but the loss to Lincoln gives the seeding advantage for the No. 3 spot to Lincoln.

O’Connor himself had 312 of the Lynx total 422 yards of offense which now gives him 555 yards passing for the season and 429 rushing yards.

After a scoreless first quarter, Lincoln scored on a six-yard run by O’Connor. Needles drove down the field and tied the score on a 26-yard run by Derek Wagstaff, but Lincoln took the lead right back on an 86-yard kickoff return by Robbins and led 12-7 at halftime.

In the third quarter, O’Connor scored on a 16-yard quarterback keeper on a 4th-and-six play.

Needles coach Dave Smith said it was a physical game, “We didn’t tackle well and did had some stupid things for penalties.”

Lincoln’s final game of the regular season will be Oct. 30 at home against Mountain View. Needles plays league leader The Meadows (7-2, 6-0) in their final game also Oct. 30