ROME - Franklin Sherman found Bond Turner open in the endzone for the game-winning TD with just over two minutes left to put Lincoln County in the Class A quarterfinals for the ninth straight year. Ercell Daniel's interception with 1:23 left secured the 21-17 victory over Darlington.
The Red Devils will host 11-1 Savannah Christian this Friday for a berth in the semi-finals. The Raiders defeated our Devils 7-0 in the quarterfinals here last year, and the Savannah team is reported to be stronger this year. The Raiders returned all but one defensive starter. They lost their fullback, but a freshman is reported to be better. Their sole loss was an upset to region foe Calvary Day. Savannah Christian pounded much-heralded Charlton County 37-6 last Friday.
Kickoff is set for 6:00. Fans are asked to arrive early and cheer in the park lot as the Devils walk from their busees into the stadium at 4:45. Former Red Devil cheerleaders are invited to Buddy Bufford Field at 10:00 Friday morning to help the current cheerleaders make signs and perform other activities in preparation for the game.
The cool night in Rome started as a defensive struggle with both teams twice swapping punts. The Tigers started their third possession near midfield, and broke a 21-yard run to the LC 26. Four plays later Darlington scored on a 3-yard run with 1:14 left in the first quarter.
Daniel returned the succeeding kickoff 30 yards, with a penalty against the Tigers starting the drive at the Darlington 21. After an incompletion, Craig Jones rushed for one yard. Sherman then connected with Mason Saggus at about the 12, with Saggus turning and gaining the endzone on the 20-yard TD completion. Dylan Arthur's PAT kick tied the game with 0:22 left in the first quarter.
After another round of punts, the Tigers moved to the LC 14 thanks to a 16-yard pass and a 17-yard run. The Devil Defense stiffened, and a 28-yard field goal put the Tigers up 10-7 with 3:42 left in the first half.
The Red Devils received to open the second half, starting from their 17. Sherman hit Daniel coming out of the backfield on a 46-yard pass play to the Tiger 31. Daniel rushed for 5 and Sherman tossed to Tyler Banks for 4 yards to setup a fourth down with about 2 inches to go at the 21. Sherman rushed for a yard, then found seldom-used tight-end Jetavius Marshall for 20 yards and the go-ahead score. Arthur's kick put the Devils up 14-10 with 9:51 left in the third.
Three 16-yard passes brought the Tigers into the scoring position. The Tiger QB scored from the 2 with 6:22 left in the quarter. The Devils trailed 17-14.
The defenses then ruled the next 14 minutes of game-clock. Sensing their last opportunity, the Devils started from their 9 with only 4:05 left in the game. Sherman passed 27 yards to Banks to get out of the hole. Sherman then found Turner on consecutive plays to gain 10 yards. After two incompletions, Saggus caught a 14-yard pass from Sherman to the Tiger 40 with 3:16 left.
An interference penalty moved the pigskin to the 25. Sherman rushed for three and then passed to Turner for 6. With 2:25 left, the Devils were again 2 inches short of a critical first down. Daniel plowed ahead for 5. Sherman then found Turner open in the endzone for 11 yards to put the Devils ahead with 2:02 left in the game. Arthur's kick was again perfect for a 21-17 lead.
But Darlington wasn't quite done. A good kickoff return started the Tigers at their 45. A short pass moved them to midfield. The Tigers tried to pass, but Daniel grabbed the interception with 1:23 to seal the win. Three offensive snaps ran out the clock.
Sherman completed 21 of 33 pass attempts for 251 yards with three touchdowns and only one interception. Saggus led the receivers with five catches for 83 yards, followed by Banks with five for 47. The Devils finished the game with only 15 yards rushing on 18 attempts. Darlington gained 300 yards offense.
This win makes 2010 the 29th time in the last 35 seasons that the Devils have won at least 10 games. Lincoln County has made the quarterfinal round in 32 of the last 37 seasons.