Lincoln County finished its regular season with a 44-14 victory over Hancock Central. The Red Devils will take this week off as they prepare to host a first round playoff game November 22.
The Georgia High School Association set the playoff field after the deadline for this week's Journal. One projection had Dooly County returning to Lincolnton in the first round. The Bobcats defeated our Devils in last year's semifinals. Next week's paper will have a preview of the playoffs.
The Red Devils are 7-3, and were the Region 7-A runnerup with a 6-1 region mark. Undefeated Aquinas won 7-A, with First Presbyterian third.
This season marks the 40th consecutive year that the Devils will participate in the postseason. With last Friday's win, this year is the 40th time in the last 41 years that the Devils have won at least seven games.
On a cold Friday night in Sparta, Mike McIntire led the Devil offensive stats with three touchdowns and 149 yards on 17 carries. Ben Turner completed seven of 14 pass attempts for 125 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, and ran 7 times for 87 yards and 1 TD. Jamar Norman caught 5 of those passes for 103 yards and the two scores.
The Devils took the opening kickoff and picked up two first downs thanks to a 15-yard run by McIntire and a 18-yard run by Turner. The effort ended when a 40-yard field goal attempt by James Spratlin went just left of the uprights.
After an exchange of possessions, the Bulldogs drove 64 yards on 16 plays, scoring on a two-yard run on the first play of the second half. The drive took over eight minutes off the clock. Hancock went for two but their run attempt failed, leaving the Devils trailing 6-0.
A 4-yard pass from Turner to Norman, with 15 yards tacked on for a personal foul, gave the Devils the pigskin at the HC 40. Turner ran for 6, followed by four McIntire runs for a total of 26 yards for 1st-&-goal at the 8. Turner rushed for 7 but an illegal motion penalty cost the Devils 5 yards. McIntire scored from the 6 with 8:37 left in the half. Turner passed to McIntire for two points to give the visitors an 8-6 lead.
Hancock came up short on a fake punt at midfield to end its next possession. McIntire rushed for 21 yards on 3 carries before Turner passed 29 yards to Norman. Jamar one-handed the catch at the goal-line with 5:17 left in the second quarter. The PAT failed, with Lincoln County leading 14-6.
The Devil Defense forced another Bulldog punt, which was downed at the LC 49. McIntire rambled for 24 yards to the HC 27, and then went the distance on the next play. Spratlin's extra point kick gave the Devils a 21-6 lead with 3:02 left before halftime.
A good defense and good use of timeouts forced Hancock to punt with a minute left. Turner passed 10 yards to Norman and 16 yards to Fred Crite. The touchdown came on a 17-yard toss from Turner to Norman with 16 seconds left in the half. The PAT failed, but the Devils led 27-6 at the break.
Demarion Jones recovered a Bulldog fumble on their first play from scrimmage in the second half. McIntire went up the middle for 14 yards and his 23rd rushing touchdown of the year. Spratlin's kick was good with 9:22 left in the third and the Devils leading 34-6.
After the kickoff, the Bulldogs started from their 6 and kept the ball for 19 plays. They scored on a 7 yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter. Hancock ran for 2 to close the gap to 34-14.
Turner-to-Norman for 43 yards put the Devils at the HC 7. A penalty slowed the Devils before Spratlin booted a 23-yard field goal with 10:10 left in the contest.
After a Bulldog punt, Turner galloped for 57 yards and another Red Devil score with 8:28 remaining. Ryan O'Neill kicked the PAT for a 44-14 advantage.
Quay Hartfield intercepted a Bulldog pass to end their next drive. His 35-yard return gave the Devils the ball at the HC 35, but the young substitutes were unable to make a first down. After the Devil punt, Hancock was unable to move the ball deep in their territory. The final was 44-14 for the Red Devils.
Mark your calendar for the November 22 playoff game.