Maybe it was knowing they were on live television, or perhaps the rare Thursday night game. Whatever it was, it took our Red Devils nearly two quarters to shake off the doldrums and get their game rolling.
For the second week in a row, Lincoln County came from behind to defeat a South Carolina team. McCormick was the loser this time in a 56-19 victory for our Red Devils in Lincolnton last Friday night. Turnovers were the story, with the Devils losing 2 fumbles and an interception, and McCormick losing 7 of 10 fumbles.
Lincoln County coach Larry Campbell commented at the half that his players must have wanted extra practice, given their level of play for most of the first half. The coaches apparently got their attention at the half as second half play was much improved.
After falling behind 7-0 in the first, the Devils outscored the Chiefs 42-6 with the help of those 7 lost fumbles by McCormick. The Chiefs last beat Lincoln County in 1974, 14-7.
The game was the 450th win in Campbell's 40-year career as Devil head coach. His teams have averaged winning over 11 games per year, which is extraordinary when they are only guaranteed of playing 10 games each season.
Craig Jones led the rushing attack with 142 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries. Sherrod Jones rushed 10 times for 61 yards with three touchdowns. Denzel Gunby completed 7 of 12 pass attempts for 77 yards and two touchdowns.
Lincoln County took the opening kickoff and was moving well until an illegal motion penalty nullified a 15-yard pass from Denzel Gunby to Jalan Franklin. After the Devils' punt was almost blocked, the Chiefs started near midfield. A 31-yard run went deep into Devil territory. Two plays later McCormick took the early lead as the Chief running backed rushed in from 21 yards out. With the PAT kick, the Chiefs led 7-0 with 7:30 left in the first quarter.
The Devils picked up large chunks of yardage on their first possession, but a fumble ended the effort at the Chief 19. McCormick didn't manage a first down, and attempted to punt but a bad snap led to Jet Marshall scooping the pigskin and running about 10 yards for a touchdown. James Spratlin's PAT kick tied the game with 4:14 left in the first.
After an exchange of punts, the Chiefs fumbled with the Devils recovering at their 43. Craig Jones carried 5 times for 33 yards before Dayshawn Taylor broke loose for 20 yards to the Chiefs' 2. Sherrod Jones scored from there. The PAT failed, leaving Lincoln County ahead 13=7 with 7:36 left in the second quarter.
McCormick came right back, ripping off runs of 12, 10, and 28 yards. The Chiefs tied the game on a six-yard run with 5:52 left in the half. The Devils blocked the extra point to keep the game tied at 13.
Our Devils proved they could move the ball as well, going 43 yards on 3 plays before fumbling at the Chief 20. A McCormick fumble led to a safety with 4:02 left in the half. LC led 15-13.
After the free kick, Lincoln County again threatened, but a pass was intercepted. However, the Chief fumbled on the return with the Red Devils recovering at the McCormick 33. A 9-yard pass from Gunby to Saggus, and a 21-yard pass from Gunby to Zireycus Letman gave the Devils 1st-and-goal at the 7. Three plays later Gunby found Taylor for 4 yards and the touchdown. Spratlin's kick put the Devils up 22-13 with 26 seconds left before intermission.
Rather than running the final seconds out, McCormick handed off, but their back fumbled with Lincoln recovering at the 12. Letman caught Gunby's pass in the right front corner of the endzone, extending the Devils' lead to 28-13 at the break.
Unfortunately for the Chiefs, the third quarter continued their turnover misery. McCormick fumbled on their second play with Sherrod Jones recovering at the LC 45. Craig Jones broke a great run of 55 yards for another LC touchdown with just over a minute gone in the third.
After the next kickoff, McCormick again lost the handle on the pigskin. This time Marshall recovered at the Chief 25, but a penalty pushed the Devils back to the 41. Sherrod Jones had runs of 15 and 17 to setup his 8-yard touchdown run with 8:48 left in the third. Spratlin's kick put the Devils up 42-13.
After the teams swapped punts, the Chiefs lost the ball on another fumble. LC took over on the McCormick 34 and again marched into the endzone. Sherrod Jones scored from the 2 with 2:31 left in the third.
McCormick's starters were able to move the ball against the younger Red Devils, scoring on a 42-yard breakaway on 4th-and-2. The Chief's PAT run failed with 9:13 remaining in the game, leaving the score 49-19.
The Lincoln County substitutes proved they were able to score as well. Mikey McIntire, the recent transfer from Harlem, gained most of the yards on the next Devil drive and scored from 1 yard out with just under three minutes left in the game. The final minutes ran down fast with the GHSA running clock in place.
The Devils are off this week, and will travel just down the road on Sept. 16 to face Class AAAA Greenbrier.