Turnovers and defense lead to Lincoln County's exciting 14-7 victory over Class AAAAAAA Grovetown on Warriors' first visit to Lincolnton.
The opening kickoff by the visiting Warriors was short, followed by a 13-yard run by QB Javon Reid to the Grovetown 44. A seven-yard pass from Reid to Midarious Roberts took the Devils to the 35 before the drive ended on downs.
The Warriors completed a 32-yard pass to the LC 28, but the Devil Defense sacked the quarterback on 3rd-and-9 to force a punt that was downed at the LC 2.
Quay Hartfield had a strong run for nine yards followed by a five-yard run by Reid to get the Devils out of the hole. The drive was stymied there, and the Warriors took over at midfield after the punt.
Both punters stayed busy as neither team could manage more than a single first down on a drive until late in the second quarter. Starting from their 39, the Devils gained nine when Reid handed the pigskin to Quindarious Wright in motion for nine yards. An illegal procedure flag cost the Devils five, but Reid then connected with Wright on left end for 19 yards to the Grovetown 38. Reid then called his own number and went untouched for 19 yards down the right side. After a four-yard run by Hartfield, two pass attempts fell incomplete to end the drive. The Warriors took over on their 15.
Xavier Gartrell sacked the Warrior QB for a five-yard loss on first down. A procedure penalty moved the ball to the five. The Warrior QB fumbled with Gartrell recovering for the Devils at the two. Jamal Norman ran up the middle for the touchdown with 2:39 left in the first half. William LeRoy booted the PAT for a 7-0 lead.
Grovetown moved to the LC 44 before Wright tackled the Warriors' best runner for a two-yard loss. The Warrior QB fumbled for a 14-yard loss back to their 40 before the Warriors punted to the LC 21.
Reid passed 14 yards to Roberts. An interference penalty gave the Devils a first down at the Warrior 48. After an LC penalty, Reid scrambled for 19 yards. Reid-to-Roberts was good for nine to the Warrior 25 before two miscues used up the rest of the half. The Devils led 7-0 at the break.
The Warriors came out in the third quarter with two good runs to get the ball into LC territory. Grovetown looked to have made a first down to the LC 30 but was penalized for a chop block that forced a punt from its 43.
The Red Devils muffed the punt and the Warriors recovered at the LC 6. A three-yard run and a facemask foul moved the ball to near the one. D'angelo Durham scored with 7:15 left in the third. Durham rushed for nearly 1,400 yards while playing for Aquinas last season. The PAT kick tied the game at 7-all.
The Devils were hampered by a penalty and a fumble on their next possession, and punted from their 8. Grovetown took over on the LC 36 and picked up six yards on two runs before trying a pass. Norman intercepted for the Devils and returned to the LC 21.
Hartfield gained nine yards on two carries, and Norman added five. Reid scampered for 11 to the Grovetown 48. The drive fizzled and the subsequent punt was downed at the Warrior 3.
The Devil Defense kept the Warriors pinned inside the five and their short punt was returned 10 yards by Tydarius Elam to the 18. A personal foul on the Warriors repositioned the ball to the nine. The great scoring opportunity ended with a Devil fumble on the next play.
Again the Devil Defense kept the Warrior offense contained, and the Warrior punt from the 10 was downed at their 32. A seven-yard run by Norman and two-yard run by Elam setup a 4th-and-1 at the 23. Reid gained three on a QB sneak with the LC offensive line. A lateral lost five yards before Hartfield rushed for 10. Reid went up the middle again for five yards for 1st-and-goal at the 10. Hartfield rushed for 8, then scored straight in from the two. LeRoy's kick gave the Devils a 14-7 lead with 3:10 left in the game.
The Devil faithful didn't have long to celebrate as the Warriors returned the following kickoff about 60 yards to the LC 27. Illegal motion cost Grovetown five before an intentional grounding penalty moved the ball back to the Grovetown side of the field. A team sack cost the visitors nine more yards to setup 3rd-and-43 at the Grovetown 40. An incomplete pass left Grovetown with one last chance with 1:13 left in the game.
A pass gained 20, but that wasn't enough as the Devils took over at their 40 with 1:09 left. Reid took his knee three times to preserve the 14-7 win over one of the largest schools that the Red Devils have played.
The game was delayed from Friday night to 1:00 Saturday due to weather-related concerns with Hurricane Hermine. Thanks to the delay, the game was played on a clear, sunny day.
This Friday, the 2-0 Red Devils will welcome old rival Abbeville to Lincolnton. The Panthers are the reigning Class 2A champions and have outscored their three opponents 78-7 this season. Lincoln County leads the series with Abbeville 7-3, including the last meeting 24-13 in 2011.
Abbeville is the #1 team in South Carolina Class AA. This may be the Devils' biggest challenge of the regular season. Kickoff is set for 7:30 at Larry Campbell Stadium at Buddy Bufford Field.