OCILLA - Lincoln County's Red Devils almost pulled off a huge upset here last Friday, cutting Irwin County's lead to six in the fourth before losing 28-14. With the loss in the second round of the playoffs, the Devils finished the season with a 7-5 record.
Senior quarterback Javon Reid rushed 19 times for 170 yards and two touchdowns. For the season, he led the Devils with 1,109 yards rushing on 137 carries with a dozen touchdowns.
Jamal Norman rushed 11 times for 36 yards to add to this yearly total of 848 yards, 158 carries, and 12 TDs.
Gerard Hearst only carried once Friday, for 14 yards. For the season, hampered by a foot injury at times, he rushed for 700 yards on 110 carries and five touchdowns.
Reid completed three of 13 pass attempts for 43 yards. For 2017, he passed 127 times with 63 completions for 997 yards, five interceptions, and a dozen TDs.
Duke Roberts was the leading receiver for the year with 38 receptions for 610 yards and six touchdowns. Antonio Williams caught eleven for 197 yards and four touchdowns.
Irwin County, along with Manchester, is expected to play for the state championship in three weeks. The Indians rushed for 251 yards and four touchdowns on 52 carries. On the night, over a dozen different backs carried the ball for the Indians. They completed five of eight pass attempts for 39 yards and one interception. Lincoln County rushed for 214 yards on 33 plays, to total 257 yards to the Indians' 290.
After Lincoln County failed to earn a first down on the first possession of the game, Irwin County returned the punt 28 yards to midfield. The Indians made a first down at the LC 39 before giving up the pigskin at the LC 30 on downs.
Reid had runs of 22 and 21 yards for a first down at the Indian 10. Two plays later Reid ran for three yards to the 5. Reid passed six yards to Wayne Wright to setup 4th-&-2 just outside the 2. Norman came up just short of the first-down marker and the goalline with 3:08 left in the first quarter.
Two long runs moved the Indians to near midfield before the Devil Defense stopped the drive. On 4th-&-11, Irwin County faked the punt and handed the ball to their most powerful running back. The Devils stopped him four yards shy of the line-to-make.
Lincoln County was unable to make a first down and punted back to the Indians at their 17. Irwin primarily kept the ball on the ground and drove the 83 yards in twelve plays. Their six-yard touchdown run came with 2:22 left before the half. They ran for two to lead 8-0.
The Indians recovered their onside kickoff at the LC 44. Irwin threw deep, but Reid intercepted and returned 45 yards. An illegal block penalty brought the ball back to the LC 25. A pass from Reid to Roberts gained ten. Reid was hit hard after an incomplete pass. On the next play his pass was intercepted and returned 15 yards to the LC 25. A holding penalty pushed the Indians back to the 32. Their running back broke two tackles on a 32-yard run to paydirt. Their two-point run failed, leaving the Indians up 14-0 with 1:14 before halftime.
The Devils' secured the next short kickoff at their 44. Norman gained 11 yards on two runs. Reid threw deep three times with no success. Coach Kevin Banks raised concerns with the referee regarding the lack of interference calls given the play of the defenders. Reid connected with Antonio Williams over the middle for 25 yards as time ran out in the first half.
The Indians returned the second half kickoff ten yards before fumbling. The Devils recovered at midfield. Runs by Norman put the Devils at the Irwin 43 with 4th-&-2. The Devils lost two on fourth down, turning the ball back to the home team. The Indians used five different running backs to move down the field. They scored from eight yards out with 3:44 left in the third. The kick failed, but Irwin led 20-0.
Being down by 20, on the road, to one of the best teams in the State, would have led many teams to quit -- but not a Lincoln County Red Devil team. Williams returned the ball about 20 yards to the LC 40. Reid kept the ball, got to the right sideline, and zoomed to the endzone. His 60-yard run came with 3:26 left in the third. William LeRoy's kick cut the Indian advantage to 13, 20-7.
The Devil Defense forced a punt to end the Indians' next drive. Starting from his 17, Hearst ran for 14 yards. Reid scrambled for 12 to the LC 42 as the third quarter ended. Norman and Reid rushed for 34 yards combined over six plays. A defensive offsides penalty gave the Devils 2nd-&-4 at the 17. The officials finally called the Indians for pass interference, resulting in a first down at the 8. Reid rushed for the touchdown from there. LeRoy's kick with 7:55 left put the Devils within six points, 20-14.
The Indians returned the kickoff ten yards to near midfield. After a four-yard run, the Devils thought they had a fumble recovery but the Indian was called down. Irwin took over six minutes off the clock, driving 52 yards in 14 plays before scoring on a one-yard run. The PAT pass gave Irwin a commanding 28-14 lead with 1:28 left in the contest.
The Devils were unable to move on their final drive. Irwin took a knee on the final play. Irwin County will host defending state champion Macon County in the quarterfinals.
Stratford Academy was the only Region 7-A team to reach the quarterfinals this week. Washington-Wilkes, Aquinas, and First Presbyterian also lost last Friday.