As Yogi Berra said, it's "deja vu all over again" this Friday in Lincolnton when the Wilkinson County Warriors return for a quarterfinal playoff game. The Red Devils beat Hancock Central 21-0 in another rematch to earn their eleventh consecutive trip to the quarterfinal round.
Kickoff is set for 7:00. Per GHSA rules, as was the case last week, tickets will be $12.00.
Lincoln County barely managed a 21-19 win over the Warriors four weeks ago in the game that decided the Region 7-A champion. This time more is at stake as the winner advances to the Class A Public semifinals against the winner of Dooly County at Seminole County.
Wilkinson nipped Miller County 27-26 at Colquitt in a game that saw the Warriors come from behind twice, 14-0 and 26-20. The Warriors scored in the final 4 minutes to win the game against the 8-2 Pirates.
Wilkinson County is 8-3, with losses to our Devils, Wilcox County, and Irwin County. Wilcox hosts Marion County and ECI hosts Trion in the other quarterfinal games. Irwin County was seeded sixth in the playoffs but was upset by Trion.
The GHSA announced that the Class A Public state title game will kickoff at 11:30 on Saturday, December 15. The Class A Private state title game starts at 2:30 on December 14. All 7 state title games will be played at the Georgia Dome and shown on GPB.
This is also the 15th of the last 16 years that the Devils earned their way to at least the quarterfinals. The Devils have won at least 10 games in each of the last 10 seasons, and in 27 of the last 31 seasons.
Hancock Central started last Friday's game the same way it did the game two weeks previously, recovering an onside kickoff. The Bulldogs managed one first down before penalties and a sack stymied the drive.
The Red Devils took over on their 17 but failed to move the ball. After a good punt return the Bulldogs started at the LC 38. The Devils caused and recovered a fumble at the LC 39 with four minutes left in the opening quarter.
Lincoln County drove 61 yards on 13 plays. Key plays included a 14-yard run by QB Ben Turner, an 18-yard pass from Turner to Zireycus Letman, and a 7-yard run by Mike McIntire on 4th-and-1 at the Hancock 13. McIntire scored from 1 yard out with 10:43 left in the half. James Spratlin's PAT kick put the Devils up 7-0.
The Bulldogs' Achilles' Heel was their penalties, and those helped stop their next drive. For the game, the Bulldogs were penalized 15 times for 76 yards, with all but one being minor infractions. The Devils drove from midfield to the HC 28 before coming up four inches short on fourth down.
The Bulldogs were stopped on downs at midfield to end their next possession. Five times during the game Hancock tried to convert on fourth down and came up short. Big Red was unable to move the ball, leaving the halftime margin at 7-0 in favor of the Devils.
Hancock Central moved the ball on the ground in the third quarter, taking the opening drive to the LC 40 before two flags forced a punt. Starting from its 24, Lincoln mixed running and passing to move the ball. Big plays were a 13-yard completion from Turner to Glenn Creech, a 13-yard run by McIntire, and a 17-yard pass from Turner to McIntire. Turner then found Letman for 7 yards for the touchdown. The PAT kick with 4:49 left in the third game the Devils a 14-0 cushion.
The two teams swapped possessions twice each. Late in the fourth, the Bulldogs muffed the Devil punt with the home team recovering the pigskin at the Hancock 5. McIntire rushed for three before Turner dove into the endzone for the touchdown. Spratlin's kick made the score 21-0.
Hancock drove into Devil territory one last time before the Devil Defense stopped the drive short of a first down at the LC 24. The Devils were able to run out the last 70 seconds, and secured their 122nd GHSA playoff win.
McCormick, a 24-0 loser to the Devils in August, came up just short in the South Carolina Class A Division II state championship game last Friday, losing 38-26. The Chiefs finished with an 11-3 record, their first winning season since 1998. Washington-Wilkes, the only team to defeat our Devils this season, lost to Calhoun in the AA playoffs and ended with a 10-2 mark.