Losing the final game of the season is always tough, since it means you didn't reach your ultimate goal: winning the state title. Losing to a better team makes the final outcome a bit easier to accept.
Had the injury bug not hit our Devils before and during the game, we would like to think a full crew of Devils would have made the game more competitive to the final whistle.
Steven Brown and Darrell Norman dressed and tried to go, but couldn't. The big blow during the game came when Belafonte Davis suffered a knee injury in the third quarter and would not return. Belafonte, a senior linebacker, was one of the leaders of the Devil Defense, and had a big play in the first half. Brandon Barden also suffered an elbow injury early in the fourth quarter that led to an interception and Clinch's final TD.
Others say that "Lincoln County travels well." Our fans certainly proved that this week. From the many in the Omni Hotel and CNN Center Thursday night to the overwhelming crowd at the Dome Friday morning, Lincoln County fans showed their support before, during, and after the game. Red Devil fans clearly and significantly outnumbered those on the other side. While the Devils set a new record with six Dome appearances, this may have been the best Lincoln County turnout at the Dome yet. Fan support has been great all year, which is one of the things that makes Lincoln County special.
Thanks to that fan support and their coaching, our Devils never gave up. Lincoln twice moved into Clinch territory in the fourth quarter but came up short. LC came within inches of having a pass reception at the goal line with about a minute left in the game.
Red Devil spirits started out high, as senior QB Cord Coppin rushed for 19 and 14 yards to setup a 3rd-&-12 at the Clinch 30 on their first possession. Coppin then found Barden open on the right side for a 6-0 lead with 8:56 left in the first quarter.
Lincoln had some breaks in the first half with Clinch turnovers, but the Panther defense kept the Devils from capitalizing on them. Midway the second quarter, Clinch's big back Justin Galney fumbled in his backfield, but recovered on the run and gained 28 yards for a first down at the LC 24. The Devil Defense pushed Clinch back 5 yards on the next three plays before a half-back pass picked up the first down on 4th-&-17. Galney scored from the 12 as the pile kept moving to the goalline and the officials didn't blow the whistle. The PAT kick gave Clinch a 7-6 lead with 2:49 left in the half.
In the second half the Panther defense forced three turnovers that led to Clinch County touchdowns and the final 26-6 margin. Galney finished the game with 156 yards on 23 carries.
Clinch sacked the Devils 8 times, which led to only 12 yards net rushing (on 27 carries) for Lincoln County.