Lincoln County will host the Dooly County Bobcats this Friday for the right to play for the Class A Public state title at the Georgia Dome on December 15.
Kickoff is set for 7:30. Tickets for semifinal games are $15.00, per the Georgia High School Association rules. This is Lincoln County's first semifinal game since 2008, and the 30th in Red Devil history.
The Red Devils whipped the flu bug and Wilkinson County in Lincolnton last Friday as the Warriors fell 28-22 in the quarterfinals. The #1-seeded Devils improved to 11-1. Dooly County, the #5 seed, is 10-2 after edging Seminole County 34-28.
The Bobcats finished second in Region 4-A, with their only losses to Wilcox County (28-14) and Marion County (12-7). Marion won Region 4-A and lost to Wilcox last Friday.
This will be the third meeting between the Bobcats and the Red Devils. Dooly won 20-8 in the 1983 Class AA semifinals in Lincolnton. Lincoln won 34-8 in Vienna in the 1998 Class A playoffs .
Second-seeded Wilcox County beat Marion County 39-21 and third-seeded ECI defeated Trion 27-10 to earn their way to the other semifinal. ECI will travel to Rochelle this Friday in a battle of recent state champions. This means that the new power ratings seems to have worked in the Class A Public playoffs, since the semifinals have #1 (LC) vs #4 (Dooly) and #2 (Wilcox) vs #3 (ECI).
In the Class A Private playoffs, ELCA will host George Walton Academy and Prince Avenue Christian will host Landmark Christian. Defending state champion Savannah Christian was pummeled by ELCA 42-7 last Friday.
Several Red Devils were caught by the flu bug this past week, but all were able to play last Friday night.
The first half last Friday was a tale of two quarters, with the Devils winning the first and the Warriors the second to send the game to halftime tied at 14-all.
The Devil Defense stopped the Warriors on their first drive, forcing a punt to the LC 44. Mike McIntire rushed for 12 before Ben Turner found Glenn Creech open over the middle for 31 yards to the WC 14. Turner passed to Jalen Franklin for 10 yards. McIntire bulled for 2 before Turner zipped a 2-yard pass to Zireycus Letman in the right front corner of the endzone for the touchdown. James Spratlin booted the PAT with 8:15 left in the first quarter.
Two Wilkinson passes gained 27 yards to near midfield before Jalen Smith recovered a Warrior fumble at the WC 45. Passes from Turner to Letman and Creech gave the Devils a first down at the 12. McIntire rushed for 5 and 6 yards to the 1 before the junior went over for the final 36 inches. After Spratlin's kick, the Devils led 14-0 with 1:47 left in the opening period.
The visitors were able to convert on three third downs to reach the LC 17. The Warriors apparently scored on a 15-yard pass, but the quarterback had been past the line of scrimmage when he threw the pigskin, so the play was nullified with a 5-yard penalty and loss-of-down. The subsequent fourth down play came up just short of the needed yardage, turning the ball over to the Devils at LC 9.
The Warriors took over at their 40 after the Devils punted. A pass interference penalty and three passes setup a 14-yard touchdown pass with 7:16 left in the half. The Devils led 14-7.
The next Lincoln possession ended with an interception, the Devils' only turnover of the night. Helped by two offsides penalties, the Warriors drove on 8 plays to score on a 3-yard run with 3:31 left in the half. The PAT kick tied the game at 14-all, which held up until the third quarter.
Midway the third quarter Jamar Norman returned a Warrior punt 38 yards to paydirt. The PAT kick was blocked, but the Devils led 20-14.
The Devil Defense, assisted by an illegal forward pass penalty, stopped the Warriors short of a first down on the next possession. After a punt, Franklin made a great catch of a Turner pass for a 29-yard gain to the LC 44. McIntire rushed for 13 yards to the WC 43. Turner found Franklin again, this time for 15 yards to the WC 28. Blake Murray caught a 10-yard pass before McIntire rushed for 5 yards for a first down at the WC 17. Turner passed to Letman for 8 and McIntire rushed for 1 for first-and-goal at the 8. The Devils put in their big lineman and McIntire scored on an 8-yard run with 8:36 left in the game. Turner passed to Franklin for two points and a 28-14 lead.
Against many teams a 14-point lead well into the fourth quarter would be considered safe, but that was certainly not true against the powerful Wilkinson County team. The Warriors quickly passed their way down the field, scoring on a 3-yard run with 5:41 left. Their 2-point run was good, and the Devil lead was cut to only 6 points, 28-22.
The Red Devils needed first downs to run time off the clock, and keep the ball away from the visitors, who had come from behind twice a week earlier to win. McIntire ran for 11 and Turner passed 15 to Letman to reach the WC 35. A holding flag pushed the Devils back to the 50 for 3rd-&-25. A pass interference penalty gave the Devils a first down back at the WC 35. McIntire gained three and then six, leaving 3rd-&-1. McIntire bulled ahead for 12 yards for a first down at the 14 with 1:50 left.
Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties again Wilkinson moved the ball to the 5, where the Devils continued to kneel on each play to complete the hard-earned victory.
For the game, McIntire continued to add to his impressive rushing stats with 143 yards and 2 touchdowns on 29 carries. Turner completed 18 of 27 pass attempts for 232 yards and 1 touchdown. Franklin caught 8 of those passes for 118 yards, with Letman making 6 receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown.