Lincoln County fumbled away the pigskin on three of its first six plays, but the Devil Defense minimized the damage and the Red Devils passed their way to a 35-14 win over Wilkinson County.
The win, on a wet night in Irwinton, improved the Devils' playoff position, which is now projected to be as high as sixth in the Class A Public Power Ratings. Using the same unofficial projection, a sixth seed would mean a home game against old nemesis Charlton County on November 22. Projections are subject to change based on this week's games. November 15 is an open date for all Class A schools.
The Devils improved to 6-3 on the season, and 5-1 in 7-A. If First Presbyterian was to upset Aquinas this Friday night, Lincoln County would join those two teams in a 3-way tie for the region championship.
The win over the Warriors makes 2013 the 41st consecutive year that the Devils have won at least six games. The victory also means the Devils will have a winning record this season; only once in the last 41 years have the Devils not had a winning record (6-6 mark in 2001).
Ben Turner led the Devil offense last Friday with 164 passing yards (9 of 13) and 103 rushing yards (12 carries), with 4 passing TDs. Jalen Smith led receivers with 145 yards and 3 touchdowns on 5 catches.
The Red Devils took the opening kickoff but fumbled on their first play. The Warriors scored on a 25-yard run with 10:51 left in the opening period. Their PAT attempt failed, leaving their lead at 6-0.
On their next possession, Turner rushed for 22 yards but the Devils fumbled on the next. The Devil Defense stopped Wilkinson at the LC 17.
McIntire had runs of 3 and 7 before the Devils fumbled the ball away again. The Warriors ran 9 plays before being stopped at the LC 7. Two plays later Turner connected with Smith on a 90-yard touchdown pass. Jamar Norman escorted Smith down the field, blocking two Warriors at about the WC 20 to enable Smith to score. James Spratlin's kick with 1:58 left in the opening period gave the Devils a 7-6 lead.
After stopping Wilkinson on 3 downs on its next possession, the Devils drove with Turner passing to Mike McIntire for 11 yards and a touchdown. Spratlin put the Devils up 14-6 with 9:13 left in the half.
On its next drive, Lincoln County scored on a 10-yard pass from Turner to Smith. Turner rushed for 18 yards and passed 21 yards to Turner on the drive. The score came with 2:56 left in the half. The Devils led 21-6 at the break.
The wet field again caused problems for the Devils, as they lost their fourth fumble of the night on their first possession of the second half. Wilkinson had a 21-yard run before scoring on a 1-yard run with 9:13 left in the third. Their two-point PAT run was good, cutting the lead to a single touchdown, 21-14.
Later in the half, the Devils converted on three third downs on an 11-play scoring drive. Turner and Smith again hooked up for the score, this time from 15-yards out. The TD with 11:09 left in the game, with Spratlin's boot, gave the Devils a 28-14 lead.
Quay Hartfield took over duties as the primary pigskin-carrier, with runs of 9, 4, and 4 before scoring on a 4-yard run with 4:13 left.
Wilkinson threatened to score again, mainly against Red Devil youngsters, but an interception at the goal-line ended the final effort to preserve the 35-14 victory.
This Friday the Devils close their regular season with a trip to Sparta to play Hancock Central. Kickoff is set for 7:30