LINCOLNTON - Two touchdowns in the last eleven minutes overcame a seven-point deficit as the Lincoln County Red Devils defeated the Laney Wildcats 13-7 here last Friday night.
The Devil Defense held the visitors to only 65 yards except for an 89-yard scoring pass in the second quarter. That strong effort included only 28 yards allowed in the second half. The D also grabbed two inceptions and a fumble.
The story was the opposite for the home team. After only 44 yards in the first two quarters, the Devils gained 180 yards in the final two. Two great play calls resulted in the two touchdown passes in the fourth.
C. J. Zellars returned the opening kickoff 15 yards to the LC 31 but the offense gained two yards before Caleb Willis was asked to punt. The snap went off his hands, but Willis avoided a disaster, quickly recovered the pigskin, and booted a 37-yard punt to the Laney 31.
On third down Reggie Reid snagged a Wildcat pass at the LC 47. Two illegal procedure infractions hampered the drive. Willis boomed a 43-yard punt to the Laney 12.
The Devil Defense held fast, forcing a Laney punt. Johnny Wise returned the punt 25 yards, but a personal foul backed the ball to the Laney 39. The Devils earned one first down before the drive ended on downs at the Laney 27.
Once again the Devil Defense did its job, and Wise once again returned the punt well. The 17-yard return gave the Devils the ball at the Laney 42. The offense struggled, with Willis punting 35 yards to the Laney 11.
The Wildcat quarterback found his receiver behind the Devil secondary. The defenders were unable to catch the fleet receiver and he scored on the 89-yard play. The PAT kick put the visitors up 7-0 with 6:28 left before the Devil Pride band took the field.
Both teams picked up first downs on their next drives but neither threatened to score before the half ended with Laney leading 7-0.
Miles Parks recovered a Wildcat fumble at their 35 on the first scrimmage play of the second half. A nine-yard run by Reid and two runs totaling seven yards by Tevin Gartrell earned a first down at the Laney 26. Unfortunately a lost fumble ended the threat.
The Devil Defense stopped the visitors from getting a first down. Wise returned the punt about 20 yards, but a flag for a helmet-to-helmet hit cost the Devils 15 yards. Gartrell, aided by a key block by Zellars, went around right end for 33 yards to the 19. Two six-yard runs by Gartrell earned a first down at the nine. Wise rushed for two, and Gartrell gained four yards on two carries. The fourth down run lost four yards.
The Devil D again caged the Wildcats to force a punt to the Laney 35. Zellars ran up the middle for 15 yards, which he followed with a three-yard run. One play later Lampkin found Wise right open on the left side. Wise caught the ball and scampered 17 yards before a defender got close. The kick was low, leaving the Devils trailing 7-6 with 10:58 left in the game.
The two teams traded punts for the next six minutes. The Devils took possession at their 31 with only 4:50 left in the game. The Devils pulled a little razzle-dazzle from their offensive playbook: a reverse with end Willis with the ball in the backfield looking to pass. During the distraction, Zellars managed to get ten yards behind the Wildcats. Willis passed deep to Zellars, who was caught 61 yards later at the Laney 8. After a run gained zero, Willis made a diving catch on the left size of the endzone for the go-ahead touchdown from Lampkin. Tristan Tankersley's PAT kick gave the Devils a six-point lead with just over three minutes remaining.
In addition to punting, passing, and receiving, Willis also showed he could play defense as the senior grabbed at interception at the LC 47 to clinch the game. Lampkin took a knee twice to finish out the clock.
Gartrell led Devil rushers with 52 yards on 15 carries. Lampkin carried eight times for 31 yards, and Zellars ran seven times for 28 yards.
Lampkin completed four of seven attempts for 61 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Willis caught three passes for 26 yards and one TD. Wise had two grabs for 18 yards and one score.
This Friday, the Red Devil homestand continues as Harlem's Bulldogs visit Lincolnton for the first time since 2011. Lincoln County leads the all-time series 22-8 dating back to October 1922. The Bulldogs are coming off three winning seasons, but have struggled in three games under a new head coach. Kickoff is set for 7:30. Go Devils!