For the second straight game, Lincoln County's Red Devils played very well against a very good team, but came up short on the scoreboard. The Devils lost 24-13 to the undefeated Stratford Academy Eagles here last Friday.
The Red Devils struck first, with QB Javon Reid scoring on a 3-year run to close out their first possession. Reid's passing accounted for most of the yards on the drive: six yards to Duke Roberts followed by a great 36-yard pass to Antonio Williams. An eight-yard pass to MonQuavious Leverett moved the pigskin to the five. Gerard Hearst rushed for two before Reid scored. William LeRoy made the lead 7-0 with his PAT kick with 4:16 left in the first quarter.
The Eagles marched down the field on their running game, as they would all night. Stratford drove 73 yards on 13 plays before a 1-yard scoring run. Their PAT kick tied the game at 7 with just under ten minutes left in the half. Stratford ended the game with over 300 yards rushing on 52 attempts.
Roberts almost broke the succeeding kickoff, caught by a shoestring after a 30-yard return to the LC 35. The Devils earned two first downs and drove to the SA 30. A sack on 4th-and-7 ended the drive with the Eagles taking over on their 42.
Four different running backs joined to move the ball 58 yards before the Devil Defense stopped the drive at the LC 10. A 27-yard field goal was good with thirteen seconds left in the half. Stratford led 10-7 at the break.
Both teams reached midfield before punting on their initial second half possessions. The Eagles then had two long runs that allowed them to reach the LC 7. A strong effort by the Devil Defense ended the drive on downs.
Starting from its nine, the Devils went backwards due to a penalty. The Eagles took over at the LC 34 after a punt. Ten plays later Stratford scored on a 4-yard run with 4:28 left in the game. The visitors led 17-7.
The Eagle kicker sent the pigskin through the endzone on the next kickoff. On 3rd-and-8 Reid scrambled and found Roberts open. Roberts then made a good run for 35 yards. After a penalty, Reid connected with a wide open Kevon Franklin on the left side on a 50-yard touchdown pass reception. The pass failed on the PAT, but the never-give-up Devils had cut the deficit to four points, 17-13 with 2:24 remaining.
The hope for a comeback was short-lived, as the strong Eagle rushing attack struck again. A 52-yard touchdown run with 2:11 finalized the 24-13 score. The final Devil drive ended with an interception with a minute left.
Reid completed seven of eleven pass attempts for 135 yards with one interception and one TD.
With mostly rushing plays, and few penalties, the game was shorter than most high school games. The final whistle was blown well shy of two hours after kickoff.
The Devils are now 1-3, their first losing record after four games since 2005. In that memorable season, Lincoln County lost their first three but then went on to win their next 12. That stretch included two wins over this week's opponent, Washington-Wilkes. The last was a 25-0 win in Lincolnton in the Class A State Championship game.
This Friday the Devils travel to Washington to play their arch-rival Tigers. First-year head coach Chad Alligood has reinvigorated Washington-Wilkes, with the Tigers shocking Elbert County 33-15 season opener. Like our Devils, the Tigers fell to larger schools in their next two games. Last Friday, W-W lost to undefeated Tattnall Square 35-30.
But fans should make no mistake. As has been said for many years, records don't matter when W-W and LC meet on the gridiron. Whether they are each undefeated or each 1-3 as this year, all effort will be made this Friday at the old fairgrounds in TigerTown. Beating your biggest archrival is the best way to give your team confidence for the subregion schedule.
Kickoff is at the usual 7:30 time. Devil fans are encouraged to be there early. The Tigers are expecting a large crowd as is usual for this matchup, but also because they are having a reunion of outstanding Tigers from the 1950s. Go Devils! Whip the Tigers again!!