LINCOLNTON - The Red Devils whipped Taylor County 28-12 here last Friday in the first round of the Class A Public playoffs. Lincoln County will travel to Ocilla to play #2-rated Irwin County this Friday.
The Red Devils improved to 7-4. Kevin Banks has now won at least seven games in each of his four seasons as Lincoln County head coach. The Red Devils have won at least seven games in 44 of the last 45 seasons.
Lincoln County will travel four hours this Friday to play Irwin County. The Red Devils have faced te Vikings only once, winning 37-7 on a cold night in Ocilla in 1989. The stadium is located on the high school campus, on Chiefton Circle southeast of Ocilla.
The Indians are 9-1 and have been ranked in the Top 10 all season. Their sole loss was to Class AA playoff team Fitzgerald. Irwin bounced back with a 36-28 win over defending state champion Macon County. The Indians have won eight in a row, including Region 2-A wins over perennial powerhouses Charlton County and Clinch County. As 2-A champ, Irwin County earned a bye last week.
Irwin lost in the quarterfinals in 2016, and in the state finals in 2014 and 2015. Coach Buddy Nobles is 38-11-2 in his four years as a head coach, all at Irwin. He was previously an assistant to highly-successful coach Robby Pruitt at Coffee and Fitzgerald in Georgia.
Javon Reid led the Devil charge on the first possession of the game. He completed two passes, for five and 16 yards, to Duke Roberts. He ran for ten yards for a key first down. And he scampered up the middle and angled right to the endzone for a Lincoln County touchdown. William LeRoy booted the Devils up 7-0 with 7:40 left in the opening quarter.
The second quarter was tough for the Devils, as two turnovers cost them the lead. A third down Viking miscue led to a Taylor punt. The Devils went back to work from near midfield. Reid-to-Roberts for nine yards picked up a first down at the Taylor 27. A fumble ended the drive. The Vikings' strong passing attack picked up yardage quickly before Taylor's star running back rushed in from the five. The PAT kick was low, leaving the Devils ahead 7-6 after one play in the second quarter.
The Devils were moving the pigskin again when the Vikings intercepted a pass and returned it fifty yards for a touchdown. The PAT run failed, but the Vikings led 12-7 with 9:50 remaining before the bands marched.
The only threat the remainder of the half was by the visitors when they reached the LC 20. A sack and two incompletions, all thanks to heavy pressure by the Devil Defense, ended the threat on downs at the 30. Taylor County led 12-7 at the half.
The Vikings got the ball first in the third quarter, but a penalty and the Devil Defense forced a very short punt. Big Red took over at the Taylor 45. Gerard Hearst rushed for 13 for a first down at the TC 29. A fumble on the net play ended Lincoln's bid to retake the lead.
After forcing another Taylor punt, the Devils started from their 33. Reid had back-to-back runs of six yards. Jamal Norman ran for five to midfield. Norman then sprinted up the middle for 34 yards. Norman for four and Reid for nine earned a first down at the 3. Three plays later Norman rushed in for the touchdown. Norman then ran for two points to give the Devils a three-point lead, 15-12 with 2:37 left in the third.
The Vikings came out passing on their next possession. After two completions, the Devils blitzed the quarterback with Antonio Williams hitting the passer, causing the pigskins to pop up and fall in the hands of Kolbi Ferguson. The lineman, son of Devil star Roy Lee Ferguson, lumbered 25 yards to the endzone for the key touchdown in the game. LeRoy's kick put the Devils up 22-12 with 1:07 left in the third.
Penalties helped put the Vikings back in LC territory. Roberts proved he could catch Vikings passes as well as those from Reid, as he intercepted in the endzone and returned 22 yards to the LC 19. The Devils earned one first down before punting to the Vikings.
Taylor County returned the punt 65 yards to the endzone, but a yellow hanky for an illegal block nullified the touchdown. The visitors were penalized another 15 for unsportsmanlike conduct. Three plays gained nothing, and Taylor attempted to punt from its 45. Travon Leverett blocked the punt with the Devils taking over at the Taylor 32. Three consecutive penalties put the Devils in a 1st-&-35 hole at the LC 45. Norman rushed for six followed by 15 by Reid. Norman ran for five more to setup 4th-&-9 at the TC 29. A pass from Reid to Roberts was just enough for a first down at the 20. Reid went untouched up the middle for an insurance touchdown with 5:11 left in the game. The kick was wide, but the Devils led 28-12.
The Devils contained the Vikings on their next drive, taking over on downs with 3:31 left. Lincoln County then rushed for two first downs and finished the game with consecutive knees. The 16-point loss was the worst for Taylor County this season.
Reid led Red Devil rushers with 15 carries for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Norman ran 16 times for 83 yards and one touchdown. Reid also completed six of 11 pass attempts for 54 yards. Roberts caught all six passes.
The Devil Defense contained the Vikings' explosive offense to a single touchdown, less than 50 yards rushing, and less than 100 yards passing. Taylor's 12 points is its fewest points scored this year, with their previous low 22. The Vikings averaged scoring 42 points per game in the regular season.