LINCOLNTON - What happens when two of the most prolific scoring teams meet in a region game? A defensive struggle that the Red Devils won 10-7 over the Warren County Screaming Devils.
Both teams have averaged scoring more than 44 points in their first four games, but their defenses proved to be the controlling factions for most of the night last Friday.
The Lincoln County victory is the 37th straight over the Screaming Devils. Warren County's last win against its arch-rival was in 1971, the year before Larry Campbell became head coach.
The Red Devil defense was superb, stopping every offensive threat by the team from Warrenton. Screaming Devil star running back Jabari Wilson, averaging over 140 yards per game coming into Lincolnton, was held to 58 yards on 16 carries. That's less than four yards a run, where before he was averaging over 17 yards a touch. Warren County managed only one first down in the second half.
Lincoln County led in total yards 259 to 115. QB Denzel Gunby led the offensive charge with his best running night of the season, with 143 yards on 20 carries. Craig Jones rushed 10 times for 42 yards and Mike McIntire ran 9 times for 40 yards.
After stopping the Screaming Devils on their first possession, Gunby scrambled for 54 yards into Warren County territory. The drive stymied, with James Spratlin booting a 31-yard field goal with 6:36 left in the opening period.
The home team threatened again early in the second quarter, but an incomplete pass on 4th-and-goal at the Warren 3 ended the drive.
All but four minutes of the first half were played on the Warren County half of the gridiron.
The Red Devils took the opening kickoff of the second half but couldn't move the ball. The punt attempt was blocked with the Screaming Devils returning the pigskin for a touchdown. The PAT kick with 8:18 left in the third gave the visitors a 7-3 lead.
The Red Devils fumbled on their next possession, increasing Warren County's momentum with the ball in LCRD territory. The Big Red Defense stopped the visitors on downs with 5:29 left in the quarter. Sherrod Jones gained 16, Craig Jones had runs of 11 and 7, and Gunby gained 12 and 6 to get the Devils to the 5. Craig Jones scored from there with 1:05 left in the half. Spratlin kicked the PAT and the boys in red led 10-7.
Early in the fourth the defenses again controlled the game, with the two teams swapping interceptions. Lincoln came up short on a fourth down with 5:26 left, giving the Screaming Devils one more chance. Zireycus Letman crunched the Warren quarterback for a 7-yard loss on 3rd-and-6. The Devils stopped Warren short on fourth down with 3:25 left. Lincoln County was able to run out the clock from there to preserve the big victory.
The Devils will hit the road to Sparta this Friday. Hancock Central is much improved this season, and pummeled Twiggs County 66-6 last Friday. One of the Bulldogs' two losses was to Aquinas, whose victory over Wilkinson County last Friday put the undefeated Irish at the top of 7-A along with our Red Devils.
Photos courtesy The Lincoln Journal