Lincoln County made several changes from its previous start and was able to continue its domination over South Carolina teams with a 41-21 drubbing of the Ninety Six Wildcats here last Friday.
The game was the first meeting between our Red Devils and the Class AA school from Greenwood County. It didn't take long for the Palmetto State team to learn what Georgia high school football is like. Given that this was Ninety Six's first game against a Georgia school in at least 50 years, and maybe first ever, the Wildcats may not want to cross the river again.
Sophomore Lakeith Lockhart provided the spark on both offense (alternating with Ben Turner at quarterback) and defense (two interceptions) that the Devils would need to secure the victory. Mike McIntyre was the leading ground-gainer with 169 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries.
The Red Devils took the opening kickoff and moved to midfield on 3 plays. Jalen Franklin broke loose for 49 yards to the endzone, but a holding penalty brought the big play all the way back. Seven plays moved the pigskin to the 27 before a fumble ended the possession. The visitors managed one first down before having to punt.
Jamar Norman returned the punt 43 yards to the Wildcat 25. A sack killed the drive, with Ninety Six taking over at its 15. Two plays later Lockhart snagged the first interception at the 22 and returned it to the 3. Turner scored from there with 1:41 left in the opening period. James Spratlin's PAT put the Devils up 7-0.
The WIldcats fumbled on their next play from scrimmage with Dayshawn Taylor recovering for the Devils at the 19. A holding penalty stymied the drive. Spratlin booted a 37-yard field goal with 30 seconds left in the first quarter for a 10-0 Lincoln County lead.
The Devils put on the pressure by recovering an onside kick on the next kickoff. Lincoln County failed to make a first down, and turned the ball over on downs at the Wildcat 42. The visitors couldn't move the ball and punted. The two teams traded punts on their next possessions.
The Devils then put together a 15-play scoring drive with Lockhart at quarterback with key runs and passes. McIntyre scored from the 2 with 1:51 left in the first half. Spratlin gave the Devils a comfortable 17-0 lead.
Ninety Six opened up its passing game, moving into scoring position on 3 plays. With what looked to be a certain Wildcat touchdown, Lockhart stepped in front of the intended receiver, grabbed the interception and outran the Wildcats 95 yards to paydirt. Spratlin booted the PAT for a 24-0 halftime lead. That 14-point swing happened with 11 seconds left in the half.
The Wildcats may have been down at the half, but were certainly not out. They punted on their first second-half possession, but the Devils fumbled the punt back to them near midfield. Eight plays later Ninety Six scored on a 15-yard run with 6:23 left in the third. The Devils' lead was cut to 24-7.
Max Ashmore's punt to end the next Devil possession rolled dead at the 2. The Wildcats managed one first down before punting from their 19. Norman returned the punt 59 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown with 1:16 left in the third. The PAT made it 31-7.
Lockhart made his presence felt again as he tackled the Wildcats runner for a 3-yard loss on 3rd-and-3 at the Devil 3. A pass on the next play fell incomplete, ending the scoring threat.
Starting from the 6, Turner returned as quarterback and ran for 35 yards to the 41. McIntyre rushed for 6 before breaking through the line and going 53 yards to the endzone. The Devils led 38-7 with 8:26 left in the game.
The Wildcats returned the following kickoff 95 yards down the right side for their second touchdown. Norman returned the next kickoff 34 yards to the LC 44. McIntyre broke 4 tackles to rush for 31 yards. Norman gained 9 and Turner 6 before the drive stalled inside the 10. Spratlin booted a 25-yard field goal for a 41-14 lead with 5:05 left.
Jaquan Leverett recovered a Wildcat fumble at their 11. Jamie Parks gained 7 yards to the 4. On fourth down the Devils took a knee so as not to run up the score with 1:27 left.
The Wildcats scored on a 77-yard run against the Devils' younger players with 25 second left. The final was 41-21
In other local action, Washington-Wilkes beat Warren County 48-0. The Tigers have given up only one touchdown in their three games, and that was to the Red Devils last week.
Lincoln County has this week off, and will travel to Macon to play First Presbyterian Day School. This first-time matchup will open the Region 7-A schedule for the Red Devils. FPD is located in northwest Macon, just east of I-475. The stadium is on school grounds. Next week's Journal will provide directions for the Devils' first visit to the private school.