Red Devils Whip Warriors, Host Quarterfinals

November 19, 2022

(LINCOLNTON) Lincoln County scored 28 points in the first quarter to beat Wilkinson County 42-8 here last Friday night. The Devils will host the Dooly County Bobcats this Friday in the Class A Division II quarterfinals.

The Bobcats, the #3 seed from Region 4, earned their trip to Lincolnton with a 14-13 overtime win over favorite Charlton County. Had Charlton won, the Red Devils would be traveling to Folkston this week. Dooly is 7-5 with all five losses coming at the hands of teams making the playoffs. Both of their playoff wins were one-point games. Their coach is in his first year as a head coach.

Dooly and Lincoln last met in Lincolnton in the 2013 first round. The Bobcats and their strong rushing attack won 37-13 in what would turn out to be Larry Campbell's last game as Red Devil head coach. Dooly had won 10-7 the previous year at Buddy Bufford Field in the Class A semifinals.

A win this week will put the Devils in the state semifinals for the first time since that 2012 season. Top-ranked Bowdon will visit #3 Early County to determine the opponent for the Lincoln-Dooly winner in one semifinal. The other semifinal on December 2 will see the winner of Clinch County at Johnson County face the winner of Wilcox County at Schley County. Schley defeated Washington-Wilkes 58-14 last Friday.

The Red Devils started the game quickly with Semaj Jenkins rushing for 18 and then 25 yards to the WC 27. Two Warrior offside flags moved the pigskin to the 17. Three rushing plays gained only seven yards with Abraham Crawford booting a 27-yard field goal. Wilkinson was flagged for a personal foul on the play. The Devils accepted the penalty and took the points off the board. On the next play, Jenkins scored from the six with 9:37 left in the opening quarter. Crawford kicked the PAT and the Devils led 7-0.

The Warrior kick returner was tackled at the 10. On their second play the Warriors lost control of the oblong ball with Franklin Brown picking up the pigskin and scoring eight yards later. With the kick, the Devils led 14-0 with 8:45 left in the period.

Wilkinson County gained one first down and reached the LC 45 before punting. Brentson Hearst blocked and then recovered the punt at the WC 32. Jenkins ran for seven with Trey Huff rushing for four. Brown took the handoff and somehow stayed on his feet for 12 yards. After another two-yard gain by Brown, Huff found Brown open in the right side of the end zone for a seven-yard TD pass. Crawford's PAT boot gave the Devils a commanding 21-0 lead with 2:39 left in the quarter.

The Warriors failed to make a first down and lined up to punt. Brown and C. J. Crite blocked the punt with the Devils recovering at the WC 30. Huff sent Jenkins straight into the end zone and then spiraled the ball to him for a fourth score of the first quarter. With 35 seconds left, Lincoln County led 28-0.

Crite was a terror on the next Warrior possession with two hard tackles. Facing 4th-&-5 at the LC 40, the visiting team opted to go for the first down rather than try another punt. Justin Zellars stopped the Warrior for a one-yard loss at the LC 41. After Wilkinson was penalized for having 12 Warriors on the field, Jenkins ran for nine followed by Kelby Glaze for seven. Huff then handed Jenkins the ball on a jet sweep and Jenkins sprinted around the right corner for 38 yards and a touchdown. With 7:16 left in the half, the Devils led 35-0.

The desperate Warriors tried for the first down on 4th-&-8 at their 32. Judson Beggs almost intercepted their pass attempt. Brown rushed for 11 to the WC 21. Three flags backed the Devils to the WC 33 where a lost fumble saved the Warriors.

Wilkinson returned the favor three plays later with Heath Creswell recovering a Warrior loose ball at the LC 45. Jenkins ran for 20 to the WC 30. Huff ran for 10 yards total on two plays to the WC 18. Brown took the handoff and looked to be stopped at the left sideline, but he pivoted and headed to pay dirt. The 18-yard scoring play came with 1:19 left in the half. Crawford's PAT gave the Devils a surprising 42-0 lead.

The second half was played with a running clock and with Lincoln giving their younger Devils playing time. Two 43-yard punts, one that stopped at the WC 2, kept the Warriors curtailed except for a 17-yard touchdown pass with 1:56 left in the third quarter. Wilkinson ran for two points. The final score was 42-8.

Unfortunately some of the Warrior players chose to show their frustration with a loss of sportsmanship. Each half was lengthened by long official discussions after scuffles. The game lasted nearly three hours on the frigid night even with the second half running clock.

Jenkins led the offense with nine carries for 128 yards and two touchdowns. The junior also caught a 30-yard TD pass. Brown ran six times for 56 yards with one TD, and caught a seven-yard TD pass. Huff was two for three for 37 yards passing and ran three times for 14 yards.

Playing football Thanksgiving week is a tradition in and for Lincolnton and the Red Devils. During the early years of the Century of Excellence, Thanksgiving Day afternoon games were frequent and often included the Tigers from Washington. For the past 60+ years a playoff game was often the main course. This tradition will be continued this Friday in Lincolnton.