Lincoln County will host arch-rival Washington-Wilkes this Friday in the first round of the Class A Public playoffs.
The Red Devils moved up one notch in the final power ratings thanks in part to their 55-27 win over First Presbyterian here last Friday. That win made 2016 the 44th straight season in which the Red Devils have won at least six games. The Devils extend their state record for consecutive playoff appearances to 43 years.
The Tigers are 4-6 after losing their first five but then going on a four-game winning streak. Their improvement started when they visited Lincolnton September 30 and lost to the Devils 17-14 in overtime. They lost to Tattnall Square last Friday in a game that decided the Region 7-A title.
The Devils had their biggest offensive production in some time last Friday against the visitors from Macon. Lincoln County gained 552 yards on 73 plays with eight rushing touchdowns.
Quarterback Javon Reid led the rushing attack with 14 carries for 176 yards with one TD. Quay Hartfield ran 26 times for 167 yards and three scores. Jamal Norman rushed 17 times for 85 yards with three TDs. Reid completed five of seven pass attempts for 88 yards. Midarious Roberts caught two passes for 26 yards.
Reid ended the regular season with 959 yards and 10 touchdowns. Reid, Hartfield, and Norman each have averaged over 5.7 yards per carry thanks to their offensive line anchored by Mitch Matthews.
The Devil Defense held the Vikings to only 14 yards in the second half.
Reid rushed for 21 yards on the game's first play from scrimmage to set the tone for the night. He scored on a 17-yard run with 9:25 left in the first. The kick was wide left, but the Devils led 6-0 early.
The Vikings began their passing barrage with three incompletions before punting. First Presbyterian would complete 10 of 25 pass attempts for 156 yards.
On their next possession, the Devils threw what appeared to most to be a forward pass, but the officials declared it a lateral and handed the pigskin to the visitors at the LC 26. The Vikings scored on a 12-yard pass. The PAT kick gave them a 7-6 lead just past the halfway point of the first quarter.
Reid made three good cuts as we went nearly the distance. The officials marked him out at the one for a 79-yard gain. Hartfield scored from there with 5:08 remaining in the first. William LeRoy's PAT kicked put the Devils up 13-7.
The Vikings passed for one first down before the Devil Defense stopped their advance at their 29. Reid, Hartfield, and Norman rushed 10 times, with the last one by Norman good for 12 into the end zone. LeRoy's kick made it 20-6 Lincoln with 11:26 left in the half.
The cheering Devil faithful were quieted when the Vikings returned the following kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown sixteen seconds later. The extra point cut the lead to six, 20-14.
The Devils punted on their next effort, with First Presbyterian getting the ball at its 44. A 21-yard pass moved the ball to the LC 35. Their quarterback then had his team's best run of the night, 29 yards to the six. They scored on a run from there. The kick failed, leaving the game tied at 20.
The Devils moved to the FPD 37 before coming up a yard short on 4th-&-3. Two plays later the Vikings connected on a 56-yard pass to retake the lead at 5:10.
Hartfield returned the kickoff 20 yards to near midfield. Norman gained eight and then four to the FPD 42. Ty Elam gained eight on a jet sweep, with 15 tacked on for a personal foul. Norman rushed for five with another personal foul putting the pigskin at the 6. Norman ran for three before Reid handed to Elam on a jet sweep right for the score. The PAT kick tied the game at 27-all with 2:45 left in the quarter.
The Devils recovered an onside kick at the FPD 46. Hartfield gained most of the yardage on the drive, including a 3-yard run off the left side into the end zone. LeRoy booted the PAT with 0:19 left for a 34-27 Red Devil halftime lead.
Two sacks by the Devil Defense ended the Vikings' first drive of the second half. The Devils took over at their 30 after the punt, and quickly moved down the field. Hartfield ran for nine followed by a 13-yard pass from Reid to Roberts. Reid then scrambled until he found Hartfield open for 25 yards to the FPD 17. An eight-yard run by Norman put the Devils at the three with a first down. Two plays later Norman scored from the five. With the kick, the Devils led by two touchdowns midway the third quarter.
The Devil Defense again shut down the Viking offense on three plays. Reid rushed for 29 on his next play, followed by three runs for a total of 25 yards by Hartfield to the FPD 13. A 10-yard run by Reid setup a 3-yard run by Norman with 0:41 left in the third. The Devils led 48-27.
Another three-and-out for the Vikings followed by a 40-yard punt started the Devils at their 20. Hartfield almost broke loose but was barely caught after 21. Reid passed 13 to Elam to the FPD 43, followed by 13 to Roberts. Reid called his own number for 11 before Hartfield scored from the 22. LeRoy added the PAT for a 55-27 advantage with 4:47 left in the game. Neither team would threaten again.
First Presbyterian is now 6-4 and will play at Aquinas this Friday in the Class A Private bracket. Eight teams from Region 7-A made the playoffs.
This Friday's game is the second meeting of the Devils and Tigers in the playoffs. Red Devils fans still rejoice in, and Tiger fans still avoid, discussion of the Devils' 25-0 victory in the 2005 Class A State Championship game before 7,000 at Buddy Bufford Field.
This will be the third time that the Devils and the Tigers have met twice in the same season. In addition to 2005, the two schools met twice in Lincolnton High's first football season in 1922. The first game ended in a 7-7 tie, with a second meeting a month later ending 13-6. The Red Devils lead the all-time series 38-35-6.
The winner of this Friday's game will travel to Darien to play McIntosh County Academy. MCA is again coached by Robby Robinson, who led W-W to their last three wins over the Devils in 2012-14.