2003 Title Clash! Lincoln Falls to Hawkinsville 18-8; Long passes, concussion, bad officiating have impact

December 22, 2003

Two great football teams played a great football game in Hawkinsville, with the homestanding Red Devils winning 18-8 to capture the 2003 Class A State Football Championship. Our congratulations to Hawkinsville on their first gridiron crown since 1959, and fourth overall.

The Lincoln County defense held the Hawkinsville running game in check most of the night, but the Hawkinsville long passing game ultimately killed our Devils. Passes of 52 and 38 yards setup the first two HRD TDs, and with their final points coming on a 55-yard bomb.

LC QB Travis Clark suffered a concussion on a running play early in the first quarter, and was not his normal self again in the game. He talked the coaches and team doctor into letting him return, but he was hit more times. Reports indicate he was unable to remember plays when the third quarter started, which led to two quick timeouts. Travis was very ill on the bench during the second half, and was taken to a hospital after the game. Per The Augusta Chronicle on Monday, Travis was checked with a CT scan and diagnosed with a mild concussion. He was released at 3 AM Sunday morning, and accompanied his parents home.

And then there's the officiating mistake at the end of the first half. After failing to score on 1st-&-goal at the LC 2, Hawkinsville attempted to call a time-out with about 22 seconds left in the second quarter. The referee refused the request since Hawkinsville had already used their 3 allotted timeouts, but another official mistakenly allowed the time-out. The Lincoln County coaches and sideline notified the officials of their mistake. After a discussion of about 5 minutes, the officials decided to set the clock at about 11 seconds, taking 10 seconds off and penalizing Hawkinsville 5 yards for delay of game. The animated Lincoln coaches argued that time should have ran out, had the official not made his mistake. Coach Larry Campbell attempted to file a protest at this point, but the GHSA disallowed it since, they said, a play had been run. We know that was not the case. The Augusta Chronicle stories provided an independent recap of this officiating mess, as both their reporters were on the Lincoln sideline as the discussion ensued, and talked with some of the officials and coaches involved. Bottom line: no protest is pending and the game is final.

When play resumed, Hawkinsville's pass attempt failed with 2 seconds left. They then scored on the extra play that the officials provided with their error. This series of events clearly swung momentum to Hawkinsville at the half, as Lincoln was now down by 12 instead of 6.

After Clark was removed from the game at the beginning of the third quarter, Cordarryl Coppin played well at quarterback, but the playcalls were limited. Several special plays had been prepared, with Clark getting most of the snaps in practice, but could not be used with the QB change.

Midway the third quarter, Raquino Mickens took the ball away from a Hawkinsville receiver and returned the fumble about 30 yards to the Hawkinsville 25. Shawntavius Jennings, seeing his first action in several weeks due to injuries, scampered in untouched for the LC TD with 6:45 left in the third quarter.

The momentum had swung to the visitors, but it would not last for long. Hawkinsville connected on a 55-yard pass that the LC defender lost in the lights. Hawkinsville led 18-8 with 4:49 left in the third.

But our Devils never gave up. They moved into scoring position again, but failed on fourth down on the first play of the fourth quarter. Hawkinsville then picked up some first downs to run down the clock. Our Devils had a final chance before an interception gave Hawkinsville the ball with 3:19, and they ran out the clock.

Even with Clark operating at less than his usual level, Lincoln County proved it could play with Hawkinsville from the opening whistle. Many thought this would be a blowout in favor of Hawkinsville, but the back-and-forth in the first half showed that would not be the case. The best two teams in Georgia Class A played for the title.

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In other finals, Buford won its third straight, undefeated title with a 31-3 win over Charlton County. AA Buford has now won 45 consecutive games, and will probably tie and then break Parkview's 46-game state record in 2004. In AAAAA, Camden County whipped Valdosta 21-7, and in AAAA Marist beat Statesboro 21-6. LaGrange won their ninth state title with a 16-7 win over Peach County.