MACON - Injuries and mistakes combined to help Stratford Academy defeat Lincoln County 35-19 here last Friday night.
The Devils, now 2-1-1, return home to Buddy Bufford Field this Friday to take on Washington-Wilkes in the next engagement of The 378 War. The Tigers, winless in four outings, want a victory over Lincoln County to turnaround their season.
Regardless of their records, an LC vs W-W matchup will always heat things up, so everyone is urged to be at Larry Campbell Stadium early. This game opens the subregion schedule for both teams. Washington-Wilkes and Greene County moved down to Region 7-A this season, so there is actually more at stake than just all-important bragging rights.'
The Devils knew they were going to have a tough battle in Macon after leading rushers Quay Hartfield and Jamal Norman were injured in the Abbeville game two weeks earlier. The Devils were also missing two linemen.
The Devil Defense stopped the Eagles on their opening drive, forcing a punt from their 37. Tydarius Elam returned the pigskin 39 yards to the Eagle 30. An illegal motion hanky and two one-yard runs by fill-in Elam left the Devils facing 3rd-&-13. QB Javon Reid threw long to Quindarious Wright to setup 1st-&-goal at the one. Reid scored from there with just over three minutes gone in the game. William LeRoy booted the PAT for a 7-0 LC lead.
The Devil Defense again did its job, stopping the Eagles at their 42. The Devils started at their 21, and picked up a first down on an 11-yard run from Reid to Midarious Roberts. Two plays later, Reid found Roberts again but this time 50 yards downfield. Roberts made a fantastic one-hand reception, but the officials called a holding penalty that moved the Devils backward to the 28. A sack cost eight more before the Devils tried to punt.
The punt snap failed, leading the punter to kick the ball out of the end-zone to avoid a Stratford touchdown. The safety cut Lincoln's lead to 7-2 with 4:17 left in the first quarter.
The Devils kicked to the Eagles from the LC 20. A 27-yard return started the Eagles at the LC 13. A 20-yard pass moved to the 13. Runs of three, three, and five setup 1st-&-goal at the 2. The Eagle QB scored with 1:54 left in the first. The PAT pass failed, but the home team led 8-7.
Lincoln County fumbled on their next offensive play, turning the ball over on its 20. A 15-yard end-around went to the five before another run for a touchdown. The PAT kick with 1:06 left in the quarter put the Eagles up 15-7.
The holding penalty completely changed the momentum in the game. In just over three minutes, what could have been a 14-point LC lead became an eight-point deficit - a 22-point swing.
The teams exchanged punts on their next possessions, with the Devils then taking over on their nine. Two runs gained two yards before Reid found Wright open on the left side with blockers. The junior outran everyone to the endzone, scoring on the 89-yard pass play wiht about seven minutes left in the half. The Devils went for two to tie the game, but the effort failed. Straford led 15-13.
The Devils stopped a fake punt to end the Eagle's next drive at the Stratford 43. Passes from Reid to Roberts and Antonio Williams, followed by a defensive interference penalty, gave the Devils a first down at the 22. Reid-to-Roberts for 12 yards put the ball at the 10. Three more plays netted zero yards. A 27-yard field goal attempt went barely left with just under a minute left. Stratford led 15-13 at the break.
Lightning struck once more at the beginning of the third quarter, as Reid again threw to the left side to find Roberts open. The speedy receiver outran everyone 80 yards to score with 10:13 left in the third. The run for two came up short, but the Devils now led 19-15. These Devils don't quit.
The Eagles drove 48 in 13 plays before kicking a 35-yard field goal with two minutes left in the quarter. Big Red led 19-18.
The two teams traded punts, but the Devils muffed their catch and the Eagles took control on the LC 28 early in the fourth. The Devil Defense stopped the drive at four yards, and the Eagles booted another 35-yard field goal. Stratford retook the lead 21-19.
The Devils managed one first down before punting from their 50. Stratford ran into the punter, but was penalized for only five yards rather than as a personal foul. The Devils took the penalty, but the next punt snap was high. Stratford took over at the LC 23 and gained one first down before a penalty backed up the Eagles. A 14-yard run setup 4th-&-7 at the seven. The quarterback ran for three before their best back scored from the four. The PAT kick put the Eangles up 28-19 with 3:40 left in the game.
The kickoff went out of bounds before Reid rushed for seven to the LC 40. He then tried to pass, but the effort was blocked in the backfield and an Eagle intercepted with 3:19 left. Stratford scored on a one-yard run with 1:22 left. The kick put them up 35-19. The Devils used up the final 80 seconds gaining 31 yards before time ran out.
Reid completed 14 of 19 pass attempts for 285 yards with two touchdowns and the interception in the final minutes. Roberts caught five passes for 114 yards and one TD, with Wright going 121 yards with one TD on two grabs.
Considering the negative yardage on the two punt failures, the Devils finished with negative-26 yards rushing - something very rare for LC. Lincoln ended with 259 yards offense compared to 218 for the Eagles. The three turnovers and punting issues gave Stratford short fields much of the night.
Kickoff is 7:30 for the Devils and the Tigers in Lincolnton.