SPARTA -- Lincoln County scored twice after turnovers in the first five minutes of the second half to extend its lead to 28-7 enroute to a 28-15 win over Hancock Central.
The Red Devils have not lost to a team from Sparta since a 20-19 loss in 1958. That streak appeared to be in some danger last Friday as the two squads were tied until just before halftime.
Leading Red Devil rusher Craig Jones was held out of the game to allow a hip pointer to heal last week and this open week, to hopefully be ready for the visit to Tigertown on October 14. Washington-Wilkes, now 2-3, lost to Wilkinson County 38-14 last Friday, and hosts Hancock Central this coming Friday.
Aquinas (4-1) remains tied with our Devils at the top of Region 7-A. The Irish were off this past Friday, and should have an easy homecoming game with Twiggs County this Friday. Warren County returned to the winning side with a 55-0 drubbing of Twiggs.
The homestanding Bulldogs actually outgained our Devils 335 yards to 278 yards, and had one more first down. Five turnovers, including the two that led to Big Red points, proved to be the difference.
Mason Saggus caught four passes, including two for touchdowns, to lead the Devils with 86 yards receiving. Denzel Gunby completed seven of 14 passes for 117 yards and three touchdowns. Gunby carried 7 times for 57 yards, trailing rushing lead Mike McIntire with 76 yards on 14 runs with one touchdown.
Lincoln County took the opening kickoff and moved down the field on a series of runs. A 15-yard scramble by Gunby gave the Devils a first down at the Hancock 31. Gunby connected with Saggus for those 31 and the first Devil TD less than two minutes into the game. James Spratlin's PAT gave the Devils a 7-0 lead.
A personal foul penalty on the kickoff had the Devils kicking from the 50, and the visitors tried but failed on an onside kick attempt. The Bulldogs started from their 43. A 16-yard pass gave Hancock a first down at the LC 39. Four plays later Hancock scored on a 29-yard pass with 7:53 left in the first quarter.
The game looked to become an offensive contest, as the Devils worked their way back down the field for a first-and-goal at the 4. Unfortunately a fumble ended that drive.
The Bulldogs drove to the LC 35 before the Devil Defense halted the incursion and forced a punt. Keeping the ball primarily on the ground with the running of McIntire and Gunby, plus one pass to Saggus, our Devils again moved into scoring position deep in Bulldog territory. A run on fourth down at the three came up just short with 9:15 left in the half.
Hancock took over and it was back down the field. A 56-yard pass moved the Bulldogs to the LC 19. Three plays later Jamar Norman intercepted and returned the pigskin to the LC 30 with 2:32 left in the half.
Gunby passed 10 yards to Jalen Franklin, then rushed for 23 yards to the Hancock 24. Three plays later Gunby found Zireycus Letman open for 11 yards and the go-ahead touchdown with 1:05 remaining in the peiod.. Spratlin's kick gave the Devils a 14-7 lead.
Hancock opened the second half with a strong running game, moving to the LC 33 after a good kickoff return and LC penalty. The Bulldogs then tried to pass, but Franklin stepped in front of the receiver, grabbed the ball and took off down the sideline in front of the cheering Red Devil bench. Hancock's faster player caught Franklin at the 10, but that only delayed the touchdown. McIntire bulled in from there with 10:44 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs fumbled on their next possession with the Devils recovering at the 26. Saggus headed toward the left side of the endzone, with Gunby's pass finding him about the 10. Saggus went in untouched. Spratlin's extra point put the Devils up 28-7 with 7:30 left in the period.
But Hancock didn't give up. A different quarterback took off on a 28-yard run to the LC 33. One play later. Franklin grabbed his second interception of the game at the goalline and returned the ball to the LC 25.
After a Red Devil punt, Hancock was again able to move into Devil territory, to the 27. With Lincoln County starting to substitute, Aaron Smith snared the interception to end the threat.
After punts, Hancock would score on a 6-yard pass with 16 seconds left. The quarterback ran the ball in for two points for the final 28-15 margin. Lincoln County improved to 6-0 on the season, and will enjoy a week off to heal injuries and prepare for the upcoming battle in Washington.
Last Thursday, the Devil Junior Varsity won its fourth straight game, this time a 14-0 win over Elbert County. This following two big wins over Washington-Wilkes' young Tigers.