Hancock Central may be improved and will probably make the 2004 playoffs, but Lincoln County demonstrated strongly Friday night that some things have not changed over the past 20 years: Big Red wins by 40.
Hancock Central's defense gave the Devils trouble for a while, but the Bulldog offense and special teams eliminated any chance the visitors had at upsetting Lincoln County.
Lincoln County punted on its first possession, which led to the first of many official conferences. After "further review", the officials gave the ball to Hancock at the HC 37. Deonte Norman sacked the Bulldog QB for a 13 yard loss, and another loss and penalty put the ball on the Hancock 14. A short punt gave Lincoln the ball at the HC 32. The Devils failed on 4th-&-2 at the 25. A bad snap got the Bulldog QB caught by the Devils at the 4. Taveras Stokes returned a good punt 38 yards to the four. One play later Cord Coppin scored from the 5 for a 6-0 lead with 2:11 left in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs weren't able to move against the Devil Defense, and a mishandled snap on the punt attempt put the Devils in business at the Hancock 31. Shawntavious Jennings gained 3, Gavin Williams 12, and Coppin the final 13 for a 13-0 lead with 11:26 left in the second quarter.
Hancock moved into Devil territory on its next possession before punting to the Lincoln 8. A holding penalty pushed the Devils back to the 4. The Devil QB was caught in the endzone for a safety with 4:58 left in the half.
After another Bulldog punt, the Devils started from their 23 with 3:10 to go in the half. Jennings gained 12. Coppin then got loose down the right side for about 40 yards, but the officials got busy with 2 flags that essentially ruled out the play. Coppin then found Steven Brown for a 20-yard reception. Coppin continued the passing attack with 14 and 18 yard completions to sophomore Alex Bradford. Three-yard and 10-yard passes to CJ Norman gave the Devils 1st-&-goal at the 5 with 15 seconds left. One play later, Coppin found CJ Norman again, this time for the TD with 3 ticks left. Jennings ran in for two and a 21-2 halftime margin.
The Devil Defense again played tough to start the second half, forcing another punt. This time Brandon Barden blocked the attemp with Trey Morris recovering at the Hancock 15. Four plays later Coppin passed to Brown on the left side at the 10, with Steven shaking off one tackler to reach the endzone with 8:38 left in the third.
After double personal fouls against Hancock on their next drive, Brown grabbed an interception and returned it 30 yards to the Hancock 18. Gavin Williams scored from the 4 with 4:41 left in the third. Another great defensive effort stopped the Bulldogs again, and another bad punt snap gave the Devils the ball at the Hancock 35. The subs moved the ball well, with junior varsity quarterback Rontae Norman rambling for 29 yards, getting caught just shy of the goalline. Two plays later Tyler Beal scored from the 2 with 10:08 left.
The GHSA mercy rule thankfully kicked in. Hancock's varsity was able to move the ball aganst the second and third string defenses, but still could not score. Discounting the yards on that final drive, Hancock lost 48 yards on the ground during the game.
This game was marred by poor officiating. The zebras never seemed to be in control, and had several long conferences to try to figure out the rules. Eighteen flags were walked off, but they missed many calls against both sides.