MACON - Lincoln County's running game outscored First Presbyterian's aerial attack to win its play-in game 45-35 here last Friday. The Devils completed the regular season at number 15 in the Power Ratings, and will host a first round Class A Public playoff game.
Taylor County will make its first trip from Butler to Lincolnton this Friday night, as the Red Devils have never faced this tribe of Vikings. Taylor finished 8-2 and second in Region 2-A behind defending state champ Macon County. Its two losses were by a total of 12 points. The Vikings averaged scoring nearly 43 points per game, with their lowest being in their 27-22 loss to Macon County. Butler is located between Macon and Columbus. Kickoff is expected at 7:30.
First Presbyterian Day and the Devils swapped the lead four times in the first half. Big Red took charge in the second half before the FPD Vikings rallied with two touchdowns in just over a minute to pull within three points. A final touchdown by Lincoln County with 90 seconds left all but secured the victory.
The two offenses combined for 119 plays and over 900 yards. The Devils rushed for 424 yards on 50 plays, and passed for 74, to total 498. FPD completed 31 of 47 pass attempts for 382 yards, plus 39 yards rushing on 12 attempts.
Jamal Norman, Javon Reid, and Gerard Hearst each rushed for over 100 yards. Norman carried 24 times for 156 yards and three touchdowns. QB Javon Reid scored twice while running a dozen times for 154 yards. Hearst rushed 13 times for 110 yards and one score. Reid completed seven of ten pass attempts for 74 yards with no interceptions. Duke Roberts was the primary target with four catches for 51 yards.
The Red Devils set their tone for the night as they began the play-in game with 11 runs. Norman carried on all but two and gained 54 yards before a holding penalty stymied the drive. William LeRoy booted a 26-yard field goal just past midway the first quarter for a 3-0 Lincoln County lead.
Likewise, the Vikings set their tone for the game with nine passes on their first 11 plays. FPD scored on a 24-yard pass with 1:16 left in the first quarter to take a 7-3 lead.
Reid ran for 11 and 12 yards, followed by nine by Hearst for a first down at the FPD 29. A 12-yard pass from Reid to Monquavious Leverett earned a first down at the FPD 15. Norman gained nine to the six. An illegal shift penalty nullified a touchdown play, but Hearst rushed for seven before Norman ran for three more to the 1. Reid scored on a QB-keeper with 8:29 left in the half. LeRoy's kick was good and the Devils led 10-7.
More passing by the Vikings led to a one-yard run by their quarterback with 3:53 left in the half. With the PAT, First Presbyterian led 14-10.
Passes for 13 and nine yards from Reid to Roberts helped overcome long downs. Reid rushed for 22 to handle a 4th-and-1 at the FPD 30. Norman then scored on an 8-yard run with 0:42 left in the half. LeRoy put the Devils back up by three, 17-14.
The Devil Defense stopped the Vikings on their first possession of the second half. Reid took off on a 62-yard run, barely getting caught at the FPD 2. Hearst scored on the next play to extend the Devils' lead to 24-14 with 8:52 left in the third.
If the Lincoln County faithful were thinking the game was well-in-hand, that thought didn't last long. On their second play, the Vikings scored on a 62-yard pass. The Devils lead was only 24-21 with 7:56 left in the third.
An 18-yard run by Reid and 19-yard pass from Reid to Roberts put the pigskin at the FPD 30. Norman ran for 15 and then seven to the 8. He scored from there with 2:40 left in the quarter. LeRoy's kick increased the Lincoln County lead to 31-21.
Good defense forced a punt, wit LC starting from its 27. Hearst broke through the line for a 29-yard gain. Hearst and Norman each had good gains as the Devils marched down the field. Hearst scored on a 9-yard run with 8:21 left in the game. The Devils led 38-21.
A 34-yard pass setup a 6-yard FPD touchdown run with four minutes left. Lincoln County led 38-28.
The Vikings recovered their onsite kick after the ball bounced off a Red Devil. A minute later FPD scored on a 13-yard pass. Lincoln County now led by only three, 38-35, and everyone knew another onsite kick was about to happen.
This time Antonio Williams snared the pigskin at the LC 46. Reid rushed for 17 before Norman scored from the 25 with 1:29 left. The PAT put the Devils up by 10.
The Vikings went back to the air with nine passes in the last 90 seconds. The Devil Defense withstood the aerial barrage and secured the 45-35 win.
The combined 80 points are the fourth most in Red Devil history. Third most is Lincoln's 55-27 (82)win over FPD in Lincolnton in last year's play-in game. The top two are also Big Red wins: 47-39 (86) over ELCA in the 2009 playoffs, and 69-14 (83) over Twiggs County in the 2010 regular season.
The victory extends the Devil's win-streak to five games, and ends the regular season with a 6-4 record. This season becomes the 45th consecutive year in which the Devils have won at least six games. This season is the 44th straight year in which Lincoln County has made the playoffs. The win guarantees a winning season for the Devils, which they have accomplished 44 times in the last 45 years. The Devils' last losing season was in 1972.
Lincoln County is seeded #15 for the Class A Public playoffs. Washington-Wilkes defeated Tattnall Square 27-25 and is seeded #16 and will host Chattahoochee County this Friday. Aquinas won the 7-A championship with a 30-27 win over Stratford Academy. In the Class A Private playoffs, Aquinas and Stratford will have first round byes while First Presbyterian and Mount de Sales are in action this week.