SPARTA - Lincoln County whipped Region 7-A Public Champion Hancock Central 28-6 here last Friday night with 21 fourth quarter points to earn a quarterfinal berth. The Red Devils will host Clinch County this Friday at 7:30 in a repeat visit to the quarterfinals.
Before more Devil fans than Hancock faithful, Tevin Gartrell scored two touchdowns while running for 110 yards on 15 carries. Colton Willis rushed a dozen times for 56 yards. C. J. Zellars ran four times for 45 yards. The Devils tallied 40 carries for 233 yards and three touchdowns.
Keenon Lampkin only passed twice, but completed both for 32 yards and a touchdown. Lampkin also rushed for a two-point conversion. Johnny Wise was the leading receiver with a 26-yard TD catch.
In a game started with a light rain and ended with a cold wind, the visiting Red Devils showed they could move the ball against the undefeated Bulldogs. After a 10-yard kickoff return to the LC 40 by Caleb Willis, Colton Willis rushed for eight yards. Gartrell broke through for 15 yards to the HC 37. Two runs by Colton Willis and a Bulldog offsides penalty took the Devils to the 25. Colton Willis rushed for five before Wise hit an opening on the left for nine yards to the HC 11. Things got tougher, as three plays gained only four yards. The fourth down effort resulted in a loss back to the 15 and a turnover on downs.
The Devil Defense held the Bulldogs to only four yards on their series. The Devils almost blocked the punt, which rolled to the LC 43.
Colton Willis rushed for a dozen back into Bulldog territory. Lampkin handed off to Gartrell who broke through three tackles in the first ten yards and then sprinted to the end zone for a 45-yard touchdown run. Tristan Tankersley booted the PAT with 2:37 left in the first quarter.
With the rain picking up a bit, Hancock drove 58 yards on 13 rushing plays. The Bulldogs scored on a one-yard run with 8:14 left in the half. Hancock went for two but their run up the middle was stopped shy of the goal line. The Devils led 7-6.
A dead ball personal foul put the Devils into a hole on their next possession that they did not recover from. Caleb Willis boomed a 44-yard punt that rolled dead at the HC 25.
The Bulldogs again kept things on the ground, moving 49 yards on ten plays to the LC 26. With 28 seconds left, the Devil Defense recovered a fumble to end the threat. Lincoln County led 7-6 at the half.
Colton Willis sacked the Bulldog quarterback for an eight-yard loss on 3rd-&-7. Facing 4th-&-15 at their own 28, the Bulldogs were in an obvious punt situation. The home team had other ideas, as they faked the punt and ran 37 yards to the LC 35. An eleven-yard run moved the pigskin to the LC 24. A big gain on a pass play to near the goal line was nullified by an illegal man downfield. Another pass came up short on fourth down, giving the Devils the ball on the LC 25 with 7:22 left in the third quarter.
The Devils faced 3rd-&-4 at the 31 when Lampkin found Caleb Willis for six yards. Zellars rushed for 13 for a first down at midfield. Two runs by Gartrell earned a first down at the HC 40. Zellars for three and Colton Willis for eight led to a first down at the 29. After three runs the Devils faced 4th-&-1 at the 20. Lampkin sneaked for three yards and the critical first down. Three plays later Gartrell again broke three tackles and scored on a 14-yard run. Two offsides by the Bulldogs encouraged the Devils to go for two on the PAT. Lampkin muscled over for a 15-6 lead with 10:18 left in the game.
Hancock was on the move again when the Bulldogs fumbled near midfield. The Devils recovered at the HC 47. Zellars rushed for seven followed by Gartrell for eight and a first down at the HC 32. Three runs left the Devils with a 4th-&-4 at the 26. Wise went left and got behind the defenders. Lampkin lofted the pigskin which Wise grabbed on the run and went untouched to paydirt. With Tankersley's kick, the Devils led 22-6 with 4:38 remaining.
Hancock had to go to the air, but the Devils almost intercepted two of their four pass attempts. Lincoln took over on downs at the HC 37 with 4:12 left.
Zellars rushed for 22 yards to the 15. Colton Willis added six, and Gartrell three to setup 4th-&-1 at the HC 6. Hancock jumped offsides giving the Devils 1st-&-goal at the three. Semaji Jenkins scored with 1:34 left. The extra point kick failed, but the Devils had a commanding 28-6 lead with only 94 seconds left.
The Bulldogs came out flinging, but all but two of the passes fell incomplete. The Devils took over on downs at their 11 with six seconds left and knelt to end the game.
Along with our Devils, the local area will be well represented in the Class A Public quarterfinals. Washington-Wilkes will travel over four hours to Quitman to face tough Brooks County. Commerce will host Irwin County. Warren County, the 7-A Public runner-up, will play at top-ranked Metter after upsetting 5A Public champ Macon County.