For the second year in a row, Savannah Christian's defense proved too much for Lincoln County's Red Devils as the Raiders won 17-14 in a Class A quarterfinal matchup in Lincolnton last Friday evening.
The Red Devils finish the season with 10 wins and three losses. Two of the losses were to teams that could play for the Class A title in two weeks: Wilkinson County and Savannah Christian. The third loss was to South Carolina Class A Division I state champion Abbeville; the Panthers' closest win this season was their 24-21 victory over the Red Devils. They routed their finals opponent 42-13.
Wilkinson County will host Clinch County and Savannah Christian will play at Wesleyan this week in the Class A semifinals. The winners will meet at the Georgia Dome December 11.
The 2010 Red Devils proved to be one of the most high scoring teams in local history with a 35.46 points per game average. Only the 2003 team (37.6) and 1963 squad (35.58) averaged more points per game.
Franklin Sherman finished the season with nearly 2,000 yards in offense. He completed 128 of 234 pass attempts for 1,564 yards and 14 touchdowns, and rushed 64 times for 426 yards with five touchdowns. Garrett Mohr completed 38 of 68 passes for 531 yards and 6 TDs, with 262 yards rushing on 37 carries with 3 touchdowns.
Tyler Banks led the receiving corps with 681 yards on 46 catches with 5 touchdowns. Close behind was Mason Saggus with 642 yards on 42 catches and 7 touchdowns.
Craig Jones was the leading rusher with 622 yards on 102 carries with 11 tcuchdowns. Ercell Daniel ran 66 times for 507 yards and 10 scores.
The group of seniors who played their final game last Friday have much to be proud of. Their four-year record of 44 wins and nine losses includes 4 straight wins over Washington-Wilkes, 4 straight quarterfinal appearances, and three region titles. They added to streaks of consecutive homecoming wins (now at 39) and playoff appearances (now at 37 seasons). All nine losses were to teams that made the playoffs, including at least two state champions.
Lincoln County spotted the visiting Raiders a 10-0 lead before coming back to take a 14-10 advantage. The Devils took the opening kickoff and started from their 18. A run and two passes put the home team at the visitors' 39 before the drive stalled. The Raiders took over at their 25. A 24-yard run helped put Savannah Christian inside the LC 20, where the Devil Defense stiffened. The Raiders booted a 30-yard field goal with 3:43 left in the opening quarter to take a 3-0 lead.
Savannah Christian then made good on its reputation for successful onside kicks, with the Raiders taking over at midfield. Many thought a Raider touched the ball before it went the required 10 yards, but the officials didn't agree. Two plays later the Raiders broke loose on a 44-yard run down the left side. The PAT kick gave Savannah Christian a 10-0 advantage with 2:54 left in the first quarter.
But the Devils were far from being done. After an exchange of punts, Lincoln County started from its 24. Sherman found Saggus for 56 yards to the SC 20. Three plays later the pair connected again, this time for 15 yards to the 3. Dayshawn Taylor rushed for two before Garrett Mohr scored on a quarterback sneak on the first play of the second quarter. Dylan Arthur's PAT kick cut the deficit to 10-7.
The Devil Defense forced another Raider punt, and Lincoln County took over at its 45. Back-to-back pass interference penalties moved the line of scrimmage to the 24. Ercell Daniel rushed for 17 and Taylor for 1 to the SC 6. Sherman found Tyler Banks open in the back of the endzone for the go-ahead touchdown. Arthur's kick made the score 14-10 with 7:47 left in the first half.
After four more punts, Savannah Christian took possession, after a 29-yard punt return, at its 30 with 2:39 left in the half. Two plays later the Raiders completed a 30-yard pass to the LC 37, and then a 9-yard toss to the 28. The Raiders then scored on a pass to the left with 1:13 left before the break. Savannah Christian led 17-14 at the half.
The tough Raider defense did not allow the Red Devils beyond the LC 37 in the second half. Lincoln County managed only one first down in the last 24 minutes. A diving interception on the final possession ended the Devils' season.
(Photos courtesy Sparky Newsome and The Lincoln Journal)