The big game atmosphere last Friday night at the Aquinas stadium was new, but the final result was about the same - a 49-6 victory for the Lincoln County Red Devils.
Lincoln County fans showed their support early, often, and in large numbers. The Red Devil tailgate headquarters was setup by 5 PM, and the visitor stands were packed before 7:00. Many Red Devil fans stood during the game, and nearly a third of the home stands appeared to hold Lincoln County faithful.
The Irish team was regarded as one of the best in the past 40 years, but its play wouldn't be enough on this night. From the opening kickoff by the Red Devils, it was clear Lincoln County was ready to play. That kickoff was a successful onsides attempt recovered at the Irish 45. The Devils didn't manage to score on that initial drive, but stopped the Irish on their first possession as well. Aquinas' punt snap went over the punter's head. He kicked the ball backwards through the endzone for a Red Devil safety with 8:23 left in the first. Lincoln County led 2-0.
An interception ended the Devils' next drive at the Irish 24. Aquinas, with a good running game, moved into LC territory. Steven Morris ended the scoring threat with an interception at the LC 25 with a 53-yard return to the Irish 22. Ercell Daniel scored on the next play on a good run. With 3:00 left in the first quarter, Lincoln County led 8-0. Kicker Dylan Arthur missed his first PAT kick of the season due to an ankle injury.
The Devil Defense continued its strong first half play and forced another Irish punt. The Devil Offense drove into Aquinas territory, but faced a fourth down and 3 at the Irish 42. Garrett Mohr lined up to punt, but instead passed to Rusty Scott on the right side for 13 yards and a big first down. Bond Turner, falling backward into the endzone, caught an 8-yard pass from Franklin Sherman. Max Ashmore booted the extra point with 8:21 left in the half to put the Devils up 15-0.
Later in the quarter Aquinas fumbled with Craig Jones recovering for the Devils. Sherman rambled 21 to setup an 8-yard scoring run by Jones with 2:24 left in the half. Lincoln County led 22-0 at intermission.
If the Irish had any thoughts of staging one of the biggest comebacks ever against Lincoln County, the Red Devils quickly eliminated any such thoughts in the first 80 seconds of the second half. The Devils took the opening kickoff and moved quickly downfield on Craig Jones runs of 5, 5, and 20. Sherman then found Scott on a crossing pattern for a 34-yard touchdown pass with 10:54 left in the third. Ashmore booted the PAT for a 28-0 LC lead.
The Irish muffed the kickoff with Lincoln County recovering. Sherman scored on an 11-yard run with 10:40 left in the third. Ashmore added the PAT point for a 35-0 lead.
Aquinas's sophomore running back sensation, Brendan Douglas, broke loose for a 64-yard gain, with the Devils catching him at the 1. He scored on the next play for what would be the only Irish points of the game. Douglas finished the game with 164 yards on 17 carries. LC led 35-6 with 10:07 left in the third.
Sherman added another rushing TD, this time for 8 yards, with 3:18 left in the third quarter. Sherrod Jones scored on a 1-yard run with 7:24 left in the game for the final 49-6 margin. The fourth quarter was played under GHSA's running-clock rules.
Daniel finished the game with 117 yards and one TD on 11 carries. Craig Jones ran 11 times for 62 yards and one touchdown, and Sherman 5 times for 61 yards and 2 TDs. Sherman completed 8 of 16 pass attempts for 115 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tyler Banks was the leading receiver with 5 catches for 82 yards. Rusty Scott caught three for 51 with a touchdown.
This week Lincoln County hits the road for its longest trip of the regular season when it visits Jeffersonville to play Twiggs County. The Cobras lost their coach to Class AAAA Baldwin during the offseason, and have struggled in 2010. Early season losses to some very good teams, including Butler and Wesleyan, have not helped. Twiggs can salvage something from this season by upsetting Lincoln County. A win over Twiggs earns the Devils a home playoff game and most likely sets the November 5 game between Lincoln County and Wilkinson County as the Region 7-A title game.
Warren County defeated Washington-Wilkes 25-14 last Friday to help secure a playoff spot for the Screaming Devils. W-W's Tigers need to win over Aquinas this Friday to have any chance at the playoffs. Also this past Friday, Wilkinson County whipped Hancock Central 31-12, and Twiggs County was idle.
In the Class A playoffs, Region 7 teams will matchup against Region 5 schools in the first round, with #1 hosting #4 and #2 hosting #3. Region 5 is comprised of the private schools from Atlanta and Macon.