This Friday at Buddy Bufford Field, the Lincoln County Red Devils will face their toughest challenge of the season as the top-ranked Aquinas Irish come to Larry Campbell Stadium.
Aquinas, the defending Class A Private state champion, has won 22 games in a row. Its head coach has never had to give the "we lost" speech to his team after a game.
The Irish's victory in Augusta last year was their first over the Red Devils since 1972, and to some meant more than the state championship they would go on to win. Reports indicate the game ball for their Lincoln County win was auctioned at the school fundraiser for $4,000, twice the amount for the state title game ball.
Aquinas has several offensive weapons, both passing and rushing. Senior back Ruben Garnett rushed for nearly 300 yards against Big Red last year.
A win this Friday would give the Red Devils the Region 7-A Subregion B championship and earn the Devils the right to play the Subregion A champion for the Region 7-A title. A victory almost assures the Devils a spot in the playoffs.
The region champion gets an automatic berth in the playoffs. The rest of the 16-team Public field will depend on power ratings. The Devils had moved up to 14th prior to the GMC game.
Last Friday, before a big crowd in Milledgeville at GMC's homecoming and alumni weekend, the Devils jumped to a very early lead and then held on in the fourth quarter for a 34-21 win over the Bulldogs.
MiDarious Roberts returned the opening kickoff 65 yards for a touchdown. The PAT kick was slightly right, but the Devils led 6-0 twelve seconds into the game.
The Devils forced a punt on the Bulldogs' first possession. Starting from its 42, Lincoln ran 11 rushing plays until Jamar Norman scored from five yards out with 5:36 showing on the first quarter clock. Big plays on the drive were runs of 15 and 12 yards by Roberts. Ryan O'Neill booted the PAT for a 13-0 Red Devil advantage.
Tydarius Elam broke up a pass to help end the Bulldog's next possession short of a first down.
The Devils overcame two holding penalties on their next drive. Quay Hartfield had runs of 9, 6, and 14 yards on the possession before LaKeith Lockhart passed 15 yards to Norman for 1st-&-goal at the GMC 6. Norman gained five before Lockhart kept the pigskin and pushed into the endzone. With O'Neill's successful extra point effort, the Devils led 20-0 with 9:10 left before halftime.
Mixing rushing and passing, the Bulldogs put together a nine-play, 72-yard scoring drive. Passes of 30 and 33 yards were the big gainers on the drive that kept GMC in the game. The Bulldogs star running back, T. J. Lowe, scored the touchdown from six yards out. The Devils' lead was cut to 20-7 with 3:53 left in the second quarter.
Lincoln County threatened again on the next possession, thanks to a 41-yard run by Norman to the GMC 23. The Devils came up just short on fourth down, returning the ball to GMC at the 14.
GMC hit on a 36-yard pass to the LC 35, but a sack by the Devil Defense helped end the drive.
The Bulldogs took the second half kickoff and ran off 17 plays and nearly 10 minutes. The Devils had stopped the Bulldogs at midfield but a running-into-kicker penalty gave the home team another chance and they made the first down. Flowe scored on a 6-yard run with 2:11 left in the third. With the PAT, the Bulldogs pulled to within six points, 20-14.
Marquis Leverett returned the succeeding kickoff 50 yards to the GMC 48. Jayden Robinson rushed for three. Hartfield then took the handoff and went cross-field for 45 yards and a touchdown. O'Neill's kick with 1:11 left in the third returned the Devils' lead to 13 points, 27-14.
GMC continued its ball- and clock-control offensive efforts, grinding out 12 plays for 82 yards. Flowe again scored, this time from 10 yards out. The drive included one questionable personal foul called on the Devils when the officials appeared to be slow in whistling the play dead. GMC trailed 27-21 with plenty of time (7:24) left in the contest. Flowe finished the game with 163 yards and three TDs on 35 carries.
The Devils managed one first down on its next possession, and punted to the GMC 33 with 3:47 remaining. Jaelyn Jones intercepted on third down, with the Devils taking possession (after a penalty) at the LC 49.
Lockhart kept the pigskin, threaded his way through two blockers at the line of scrimmage, then outraced everyone to paydirt. The 51-yard run, plus O'Neill's extra point, all but put the game away with 1:50 left.
A penalty pushed the Bulldogs deep in their territory to start their next possession. The Devils stopped the drive and took over on downs at the GMC 17 with just under a minute left. Big Red ran out the clock from that point.
Hartfield finished the game with 88 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries. Norman ran nine times for 85 yards and one score. Lockhart scored twice on six runs for 49 yards.
Lincoln County improved from 19th to 14th in this week's Class A Public Football Power Ratings.
But its effort to make the playoffs is far from over. While the Devils are favored against the GMC Bulldogs this Friday in Milledgeville, they will be underdogs against Aquinas on Halloween, and in the 7-A play-in game against one of the Macon private schools November 7.
GMC is 2-5 with the five losses coming to Region 7-A private schools. The Bulldogs leading rusher has nearly 2,000 yards.
Homecoming is always a special night for a high school. For the last 43 seasons in Lincolnton, Homecoming has also meant a victory on Friday night. This time it was a come-from-behind 33-6 win over Hancock Central.
This year it was expected to be a tough battle, as Hancock Central was a two-point computer favorite coming into the game. Led by their outstanding quarterback Montkevious Fluellen, the Bulldogs took a 6-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter. Other than that, it was almost all Red Devils.
Hancock Central muffed the opening kickoff but recovered the pigskin at its 25. The Bulldogs drove to the Lincoln 31 with their shifty quarterback doing most of the damage. LaKeith Lockhart snared an interception and returned it to the Bulldog 39.
The Devils managed one first down before punting back to the visitors at their 13. Fluellen scored from the nine 13 plays later. The big play on the drive was a 37-yard run by Fluellen on 3rd-&-2 near midfield. The PAT effort failed, but the Bulldogs led 6-0.
But the Red Devils knew how important this game was. MiDarious Roberts returned the kickoff 15 yards to the LC 39. Quay Hartfield gained 7 before Jamar Norman rushed for 5. Norman was handed the ball again, but this time it was a 25-yard pickup. Hartfield then went around right end and scooted into the endzone 24 yards later. Ryan O'Neill's kick gave the Devils the lead 7-6 with 8:16 left in the half.
The Bulldogs fumbled on their second play with Norman recovering at the HC 42. Norman rushed for five on 3rd-&-3 and, a few plays later, 6 on 4th-&-6, to keep the Devil drive alive. A few plays later he went across the line on the left side, waggled twice to evade defenders, and scored on an eight-yard run. The PAT kick was no good, but the Devils led 13-6 with 44 seconds left before Homecoming festivities would begin.
Hancock Central fumbled the next kickoff with Javon Reid recovering at the HC 35. Lockhart passed 10 yards to Norman to the 25. Three plays later a 47-yard field goal attempt fell just short as the half ended. The Devils led 13-6.
Lincoln County took the second half kickoff but was unable to make a first down. After a punt, Hancock also failed to make a first down and attempted to punt Jalen Wade blocked the kick with the Devils recovering at the HC 17. Norman carried to the five. After a one-yard loss, Norman scored from the six behind a wall of blockers on the right side. The PAT run failed, leaving the Devils ahead 19-6 with 7:39 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs punted to end their next possession. Hartfield broke two tackles for an 18-yard gain before a fumble ended the drive at the HC 41. A few plays later Hancock returned the favor with Marquis Leverett recovering at the LC 27 very late in the quarter.
On second down Norman went up the middle and never looked back on a 69-yard scoring run. O'Neill's kick put the Devils up 26-6 with 11:45 left in the contest.
Hancock moved near midfield on its next possession, but Norman broke up a pass attempt on fourth down at the HC 43 with 8:28 remaining.
Hartfield rushed for 17 before Roberts added six. Jayden Robinson rushed for 3 yards, as did Lockhart. Hartfield again went around the right corner for his second touchdown of the evening. O'Neill's kick was good midway the final period.
After a good kickoff return, Hancock tried a pass on 3rd-&-long, but the Devils intercepted and returned the ball to the HC 29. Freshman QB Reid ran for 23 yards, but a penalty backed the Devils up to the 25. Reid ran for a first down and then ran out the clock to secure the victory.
Norman led the rushing attack with 115 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries. Hartfield carried six times for 84 yards and two scores.
The win improves the Devils to 5-2 overall and 2-0 in Region 7-A subregion B.
Lincoln County will travel to Milledgeville this Friday to face Georgia Military Prep and its outstanding running back T. J. Lowe. He has rushed for over 1,100 yards already this season. Kickoff near the old state capitol will be at 7:30.
A win over the GMC Bulldogs will setup a showdown with defending state champ Aquinas in Lincolnton Halloween night to decide the top two seeds in Region 7-A subregion B. On November 7, the teams from subregion B will matchup against the corresponding seed from subregion A.
Readers of The Lincoln Journal know a lot about Red Devil football, Lincolnton, and Lincoln County. Consider the following questions and test your knowledge.
Answers are provided after the questions.
1. What do the Red Devils have in common with the fictional town of Mayberry?
2. Prior to the current Post Office, what buildings served that function in Lincolnton?
3. The same area has been used as the football field since 1922. What was it used for before then?
4. Lincolnton has changed a lot over the last fifty years. Name three things, other than church buildings, that haven't changed much.
5. In 1930, what was the primary route to Augusta?
6. Lincolnton once was home to two movie theaters and a bowling alley. Where were these located?
7. Where was the jail before the current one was built?
8. W. T. "Tutt" Dunaway started football at Lincolnton High in 1922. At what college was he a star football player?
9. Legendary stories about Dr. Weems Pennington continue to be told. "Doc" would sometimes sneak out his office's back door during the day and visit a nearby business and help their customers. Which business?
10. Where was Larry Campbell's first paycheck from after he moved to Lincolnton?
1. An old song. The Mayberry Founders' Day song and the Red Devil fight song are both based on "Our Boys Will Shine Tonight", which is believed to have originated as a Civil War song about soldiers.
Here's the Mayberry lyrics: "Mayberry'll shine tonight, Mayberry'll shine. When the moon comes up and the sun goes down, Mayberry'll shine." Here's the original lyrics: "Our boys will shine tonight. Our boys will shine. We'll shine in beauty bright all down the line. We're all dressed up tonight. That's one good sign. When the sun goes down and the moon comes up, our boys will shine." The song has been adapted many times as fight songs for high schools, colleges, and others around the world.
2. Going backwards in time: the brick building at intersection of Goshen and Peachtree; the stone-faced building on Main Street, next to Linco Place; the right-most storefront in the long brick building on the other side of Main Street, adjacent to the barber shop; the Wilkes House, which was torn down to make room for the current location of Farmers State Bank.
3. The present football field was used as a cow pasture. Dr. C. H. May allowed the school to use it for football since it was some of the flattest property nearest the school. In 1922, the high school would have been at what became known as the "green building" on the corner of Sunrise and Dallas.
4. Here's six; there are probably more: (1) Red Devil football - still winners. (2) Goldman & Wengrow. (3) City Pharmacy. (4) Spratlin's Hardware Store. (5) Lincolnton still has only three intersections with full traffic signals; the 378 & 79 signal was the last added, in the early 1960's. (6) The Lincoln Journal - the oldest continually-operating business in Lincoln County.
5. Before the direct route from Lincoln County through Evans and Martinez was developed, the shortest route was through Leah to Appling and then to Augusta. What is now an hour's ride (depending on traffic) once was an all-day effort over rutted dirt roads.
6. The Linco Theater was on Main Street, where City Pharmacy is now located. The Amuzu Theater was in the Keeter Building, the two story building at the Confederate Monument. The bowling alley was in the building on Washington Street between the traffic signal and Guillebeau Avenue; this building would later house A&M Supermarket and other businesses.
7. The jail was on Washington Street, just east of the current location of Crawford & Breazeale Drugs. Part of the foundation still stands.
8. Dunaway starred for the Mercer College Bears in 1909 and 1910. Also on the 1910 Mercer team was Homer L. Rice, later to be the Washington coach in 1922 and 1923, and a Baptist preacher. After the 1942 season, Mercer dropped football. The Bears returned to the gridiron in 2011, and earlier this year joined the Southern Conference.
9. Farmers Hardware and Furniture. Here's the story of one of "Doc's" visits to the store at told by Emory Ware on the Facebook group "I am so Lincoln County that I remember ...": "Farmers Hardware was one of Dr. Pennington's go-to places when a break was needed . He would simply slip out the back door of his office and come through the back door of the store. Doc loved to ramble about and find an interesting device or tool then go into a 10 minute discourse on its origin and potential use. And Dr. Pennington loved to help customers find an item and of course fix something that was broken, often drawing diagrams on brown paper bags to illustrate his idea of a solution and lecturing the customer on ways to make their life better if they would just heed his advice.
"The telephone company was refurbishing some equipment for a time and one of their technicians, from "out of town" came in while Doc was taking 5 . When Doc saw the man carrying a small bundle of wires he stepped forward and said "how can I help you?" What followed was a rather deep discussion on advanced technology and intricate switching mechanisms, right down Doc's alley. The technician was amazed at the depth of knowledge offered and even admitted that some of the information bordered on genius! While I was charging the items to the telephone company Doc slipped back out the door and was gone. The technician exclaimed 'Y'all better try and hang on to that guy that waited on me. He is amazing! [Well], he should'a been a doctor!"
10. During the summer of 1970, Larry Campbell was hired to work as a lifeguard at the Elijah Clark State Park swimming area. (That info came from Mrs. Mildred Fortson several years ago.)
Please email the writer (email@example.com) if you have additional information to offer on any of the topics.