The battle for the Region 7-A Subregion B title will be broadcast live on WJBF 6.2 this Friday from Lincolnton.
This will be the fifth Lincoln County game broadcast live by the Augusta station since September 2011. This is the third time Aquinas was the opponent. The Devils won in Augusta in 2012, and Aquinas won at Buddy Bufford Field last year. That win was the first for the Irish over our Devils since 1972.
Aquinas has not lost since the 2012 playoffs, and currently rides a 22-game winning streak.
The Red Devils moved up to 12th in the Class A Public standings after their win over GMC last Friday. The top 16 make the playoffs.
This Friday's game between LCHS and Aquinas will decide the top two spots in 7-A subregion B. The winner will play the top team from subregion A, which looks to be Tattnall Square from Macon. If Stratford Academy defeats Wilkinson County this Friday, Stratford (from Macon) will be the #2 team in subregion A. A Wilkinson win could force a 3-way tie with Stratford and First Presbyterian Day.
The final week of the regular season will see teams from each subregion match up against the same-placed team from the other subregion.
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.
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.