Homecoming is always a special night for a high school. For the last 43 seasons in Lincolnton, Homecoming has also meant a victory on Friday night. This time it was a come-from-behind 33-6 win over Hancock Central.
This year it was expected to be a tough battle, as Hancock Central was a two-point computer favorite coming into the game. Led by their outstanding quarterback Montkevious Fluellen, the Bulldogs took a 6-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter. Other than that, it was almost all Red Devils.
Hancock Central muffed the opening kickoff but recovered the pigskin at its 25. The Bulldogs drove to the Lincoln 31 with their shifty quarterback doing most of the damage. LaKeith Lockhart snared an interception and returned it to the Bulldog 39.
The Devils managed one first down before punting back to the visitors at their 13. Fluellen scored from the nine 13 plays later. The big play on the drive was a 37-yard run by Fluellen on 3rd-&-2 near midfield. The PAT effort failed, but the Bulldogs led 6-0.
But the Red Devils knew how important this game was. MiDarious Roberts returned the kickoff 15 yards to the LC 39. Quay Hartfield gained 7 before Jamar Norman rushed for 5. Norman was handed the ball again, but this time it was a 25-yard pickup. Hartfield then went around right end and scooted into the endzone 24 yards later. Ryan O'Neill's kick gave the Devils the lead 7-6 with 8:16 left in the half.
The Bulldogs fumbled on their second play with Norman recovering at the HC 42. Norman rushed for five on 3rd-&-3 and, a few plays later, 6 on 4th-&-6, to keep the Devil drive alive. A few plays later he went across the line on the left side, waggled twice to evade defenders, and scored on an eight-yard run. The PAT kick was no good, but the Devils led 13-6 with 44 seconds left before Homecoming festivities would begin.
Hancock Central fumbled the next kickoff with Javon Reid recovering at the HC 35. Lockhart passed 10 yards to Norman to the 25. Three plays later a 47-yard field goal attempt fell just short as the half ended. The Devils led 13-6.
Lincoln County took the second half kickoff but was unable to make a first down. After a punt, Hancock also failed to make a first down and attempted to punt Jalen Wade blocked the kick with the Devils recovering at the HC 17. Norman carried to the five. After a one-yard loss, Norman scored from the six behind a wall of blockers on the right side. The PAT run failed, leaving the Devils ahead 19-6 with 7:39 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs punted to end their next possession. Hartfield broke two tackles for an 18-yard gain before a fumble ended the drive at the HC 41. A few plays later Hancock returned the favor with Marquis Leverett recovering at the LC 27 very late in the quarter.
On second down Norman went up the middle and never looked back on a 69-yard scoring run. O'Neill's kick put the Devils up 26-6 with 11:45 left in the contest.
Hancock moved near midfield on its next possession, but Norman broke up a pass attempt on fourth down at the HC 43 with 8:28 remaining.
Hartfield rushed for 17 before Roberts added six. Jayden Robinson rushed for 3 yards, as did Lockhart. Hartfield again went around the right corner for his second touchdown of the evening. O'Neill's kick was good midway the final period.
After a good kickoff return, Hancock tried a pass on 3rd-&-long, but the Devils intercepted and returned the ball to the HC 29. Freshman QB Reid ran for 23 yards, but a penalty backed the Devils up to the 25. Reid ran for a first down and then ran out the clock to secure the victory.
Norman led the rushing attack with 115 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries. Hartfield carried six times for 84 yards and two scores.
The win improves the Devils to 5-2 overall and 2-0 in Region 7-A subregion B.
Lincoln County will travel to Milledgeville this Friday to face Georgia Military Prep and its outstanding running back T. J. Lowe. He has rushed for over 1,100 yards already this season. Kickoff near the old state capitol will be at 7:30.
A win over the GMC Bulldogs will setup a showdown with defending state champ Aquinas in Lincolnton Halloween night to decide the top two seeds in Region 7-A subregion B. On November 7, the teams from subregion B will matchup against the corresponding seed from subregion A.