The young 2014 Red Devils drew first blood here last Friday night, but were unable to stop the talented and experienced Washington-Wilkes Tigers. The visitors won 36-10 for their third straight win over Lincoln County.
The all-time series, begun in 1922, now stands at 36-35-6, giving the Tigers a chance to tie the heated series next year in Washington. The series is the second longest continually-played rivalry in the Peach State, with the two teams meeting every year since 1958.
The Tigers' potent offense, led by junior QB Deandre Harris, amassed 454 yards of offense with 17 first downs. Harris completed 19 of 29 pass attempts for 262 yards and four touchdowns in the air, plus one on the ground.
The Devils managed 157 yards, primarily on the ground. Jamar Norman led the rushing attack with 79 yards on 15 carries.
Both teams kept the guys in stripes busy. LC was penalized 13 times for 92 yards, while W-W was flagged 10 times for 80 yards.
The Tigers won the coin toss and took the opening kickoff on the hot night at Buddy Bufford Field at Larry Campbell Stadium. Multiple penalties stymied the drive after one first down. The punt attempt faltered, with the Devils taking over at the W-W 11. Three carries by Norman netted only one yard before Ryan O'Neil booted a 28-yard field goal with 7:51 left in the first quarter.
The Tigers came right back, scoring on a 37-yard pass from Harris to Jaquavious Blackburn with 5:41 left in the quarter. Triston Shelton booted the PAT for a 7-3 lead.
Two penalties put the Devils in a deep hole on their next possession. After their punt, Jalen Wade broke up a Tiger pass on third down to force the visitors to punt. The Devils then gained one first down before a fumble gave the ball to the Tigers at the LC 22. Two passes from Harris to Bradley Jefferson (8 then 14 for the TD) increased the Tiger lead. The PAT put the Tigers up 14-3 with 11:22 remaining in the half.
Norman had a good kickoff return but a penalty backed the Devils up inside the 10. After the punt, Washington-Wilkes was threatening again until LaKeith Lockhart tipped the ball to himself, intercepted at the LC 15, and returned the pigskin to the W-W 38. Unfortunately the turnover bug then bit the Devils and they fumbled to W-W on the next play.
The potent passing attack picked up three Tiger first downs before the Devils stopped the visitors on downs at the LC 9. Two incomplete passes and an illegal procedure penalty left the Devils with 3rd-and-15 at the 4. Pressure on the Devil QB in the end zone led to an intentional grounding flag. By rule, intentional grounding in the end zone results in a safety. The Tigers led 16-3 with 4:45 before halftime.
After the kickoff from the 20, the Tigers marched down the field and scored on a 15-yard pass from Harris to Devarious Smith with 2:31 left before the bands played. The kick was wide left, but the Tigers led 22-3. The two teams traded interceptions before the half ended.
Marquis Leverett showed these young Devils have no "quit" in them, as he returned the second half kickoff 30 yards to the LC 40. QB Lockhart rambled for 17 yards before passing 18 yards to MiDarious Roberts. Lockhart rushed for 2 yards before connecting with Norman for a 12-yard gain. Quay Hartfield went untouched the final 9 yards for the touchdown. O'Neill's PAT kick cut the margin to 12 points, 22-10, with 9:50 left in the third quarter.
The Devil defense showed new life, forcing a 3-and-out on the next Tiger possession. The Devils picked up one first down before their drive fizzled. Their punt put the Tigers at their 26. Harris threw right to Miles Gartrell, who broke two tackles near the line of scrimmage and was then off to the races. The 74-yard pass play scored with 4:38 left in the third. The Tigers led 29-10.
After the teams swapped punts, the Devils picked up two first downs before having to punt. The Tigers began at their 28 and drove the distance in 8 plays. Harris scored from 9 yards out with 6:25 left in the game to all but seal the victory with a 36-10 lead.
But again the Devils didn't give up. They drove to the Tiger 30 before the drive ended on downs. The Tigers made two big plays and were threatening to score again as the final seconds ticked away.
The Red Devils have a week off to get ready for the Westside Patriots on September 12. This will be the first meeting between the two schools. The Richmond County school is now in Class AA. The Patriots' stadium is just off Washington Road: turn onto Patriot Way between the Mercedes-Benz dealership and the original Rhinehart's Oyster Bar location.