The only good thing about losses is that they make you appreciate wins even more.
And Lincoln County fans certainly appreciated and enjoyed Friday night's 28-5 domination of the Commerce Tigers. This rivalry has become one of the most bitter around over the past several years, but 2005 has seen both teams perform at less than their usual championship level.
The win ended our Devils' 4-game losing streak, tied for its longest since 1972. In each of those games, the Devils led early in the game but could not sustain their efforts for four quarters.
Friday night saw four quarters of excellent play, as Lincoln County defeated Commerce for the fourth straight time. Big Red now leads the all-time series 9-4.
After stopping Commerce on its initial possession, the Devils started from the 50 and drove the distance on 9 rushing plays. Shawntavious Jennings scored from the 8 with just under 5 minutes left in the first quarter. The Tigers clawed right back, moving from their 36 to the LC 35 where they faced 4th-&-5. Tiger QB Reuben Haynes was sacked for an 8-yard loss to end the threat. Haynes finished the game with 25 carries for 90 yards.
Lincoln again drove, with QB Brandon Barden rushing for big gains of 11 and 15 yards. Jennings broke through the line for the final 27 yards with 7:45 left in the half. Barden passed to Jatheus Jones for the 2-point conversion and a 14-point lead.
After a Tiger punt, Big Red started from their 34 with just under 5 minutes left in the first half. Barden was again the catalyst, rushing for 11 on a 3rd-&-9, and for 18 on a 4th-&-2. The junior QB then found Darrell Norman open on the left side and for 28-yard pass play. Vance Tarver's PAT kick gave the Devils a 21-0 halftime lead. A Larry Campbell team has never lost a game after leading by at least 17.
Our Devils took the second half kickoff and were moving the ball before a turnover at the LC 30 gave Commerce a chance to get back into the game. The Tiger QB sprinted for 21 for 1st-&-goal at the 9. Then the Devil Defense has one of its best series this year, holding Commerce to a single yard on 3 plays and forcing a 25-yard field goal with 7:56 left in the third.
After stopping the Tigers on downs on their next possession, Big Red took over at the Tiger 42. Rontae Norman cut back midfield for a 36-yard touchdown run with 11:49 left to seal the victory. Commerce mounted another drive that the Devils stopped at their 2. Unable to make a first down, the Devils played it safe and took an intentional safety to provide the final 28-5 margin. Lincoln County is now 1-3 while Commerce drops to 2-3.
Barden finished the game with 75 yards on 9 carries, and 1 for 2 for 28 yards passing. Jennings led rushers with 82 yards on 12 carries.