Ups, downs, and determination. Friday night's game with Athens Academy was full of all three as our Red Devils managed a 10-7 win over the visiting Spartans.
The biggest down happened late in the first half when starting quarterback Brandon Barden went down with an ankle injury. The Lincoln County faithful seemed to hold their breath during the halftime as Barden was taken to a medical facility for an x-ray of the problem ankle. Everyone thought he was surely done for at least the game.
Our Devils were determined to win the game without their on-field leader. Rontae Norman led the Devils on a 15-play drive, starting from their 20 on their first possession of the second half. The Devils faced a fourth and goal at the three. Barden had sneaked back in the game at tightend on the previous play, but on fourth down he lined up at QB and powered through the line into the endzone with 9:12 left in the game. Vance Tarver booted the PAT for a 7-0 LC lead. Rarely do you see a player removed from the stadium for a medical exam return not just to play, but to score a big touchdown.
Staying at quarterback, Barden led the Devils on their next drive. That opened the door to get the ball to Norman in other ways, and Rontae made good use of it with a 34-yard run. When the drive stymied, Tarver kicked a 31-yard field goal to put the Devils up by 10 with 4:28 left.
But Athens Academy would not go quietly to a loss. The Spartans marched down the field, scoring on a 28-yard pass with 2:18 left. The Spartans then recoved an onside kick for their last scoring attempt that threatened to give some Devil fans heart-failure. Lincoln intercepted a pass to end the threat, but the play was nullified by a pass interference penalty. The Devil Defense played tough, causing a 4th down pass attempt for fall incomplete with 23 ticks left in the game.
Our Devils improve to 2-3 and prepare to travel to Augusta next Friday to play the 4-1 Aquinas Irish in their first Region 7-A game. Athens Academy falls to 2-2-1 but will contest Region 8-A with Commerce and Social Circle.