LINCOLNTON - Two touchdowns in less than two minutes midway the second quarter proved to be the difference here last Friday night as the Harlem Bulldogs outscored the Lincoln County Red Devils 42-27.
A long touchdown run followed by a fumble return for touchdown gave the visitors a 14-point lead that they would not surrender. The Bulldogs had several good running backs that the Devils had difficulty containing. Harlem rushed 44 times for 326 yards, and completed five of eight pass attempts for 61 yards.
The Devils had by far their best offensive production of 2020. They amassed 415 yards in offense, but four turnovers and eight penalties constrained scoring. Tevin Gartrell scored twice with 119 yards on 19 carries. C. J. Zellars carried nine times for 61 yards.
Keenon Lampkin completed nine of twenty pass attempts for 199 yards with two TDs and two interceptions. Caleb Willis caught six passes for 114 yards and one score. Zellars had one reception, a touchdown catch for 47 yards.
The Red Devils were moving the pigskin well on the opening possession of the contest before an interception at the Harlem 27 ended the drive. A 28-yard run on the next play flipped the field. The Bulldogs scored from five yards out to cap the nine-play drive. The extra point kick went wide right, leaving the visitors up 6-0 with 7:15 remaining in the first.
Zellars returned the kickoff thirty yards to the LC 40. Gartrell rushed for 13, eight, 12, and seven yards, with a seven-yard run by Zellars, to earn a first down at the Harlem 14. Gartrell scampered over the left side untouched for the tying touchdown. Tristan Tankersley booted the PAT for a 7-6 Lincoln County lead with 4:49 remaining in the opening period.
A 22-yard run put the Bulldogs into scoring position. The Devil Defense stopped the threat after two incomplete passes at the LC 8.
A 12-yard run by Zellars earned a first down at the LC 25. A bad snap on 3rd-&-1 cost seven yards and led to a punt. The Bulldogs returned the punt 45 yards to the LC 15. Two plays later the Bulldogs scored on a seven-yard run. A two-point conversion pass put Harlem up 14-7 with 10:32 remaining in the second quarter.
The Devils overcame an illegal block penalty for a first down at the LC 36. The drive stalled and the Devils punted. A low snap resulted in a ten-yard punt, which Harlem returned down the right side 45 yards to paydirt. Harlem led 21-7 midway the second.
Zellars returned the next kickoff 30 yards but an illegal block started the possession at the LC 13. Gartrell rushed for 13, but a fumble on the next play was scooped by a Bulldog for a defensive touchdown. The 15-yard fumble return, with the extra point, gave the Bulldogs a 28-7 lead 4:28 before halftime.
After a swap of possessions, the Devils threatened after a 13-yard pass to Willis and 23-yard pass to Reggie Reid reached the Harlem 20. Lampkin found Willis in the endzone but an ineligible receiver downfield nullified the would-be touchdown. An interception on the next play ended the threat and the half.
Harlem scored on a 49-yard run on the third play of the second half to take a commanding 35-7 lead.
Demondre Booker returned the kickoff 35 yards into Bulldog territory to spark the Devils. Three plays later Lampkin threw to a wide-open Zellars deep on the left side, and he was off to the races. The 47-yard TD pass came with 9:43 left in the third. Tankersley's PAT cut the lead to 35-14.
A 43-yard pass led to a 13-yard touchdown run midway the third quarter to again give Harlem a 28-point lead, 42-14.
Gartrell returned the next kickoff 25 yards to the LC 30. The Devils earned a first down at the LC 41 before a penalty and incomplete passes ended the possession. The Devils punted, but the Bulldogs muffed the punt with Jaquez Norman recovering for the Devils at the Harlem 24. Willis was open deep and caught the Lampkin pass with 3:42 left in the third. The extra point cut the Harlem lead 42-21.
The Devils recovered their onside kickoff attempt at the Bulldog 47. Zellars rushed for 13 and Gartrell for seven to the Bulldog 27. A pass attempt was intercepted at the 17. The Bulldogs ran off 10 plays and nearly four minutes before turning the ball over on downs at the LC 24.
Gartrell sprinted for 24. Lampkin and Willis connected for 26 to the Harlem 35. Zellars rushed for 17, but illegal procedure cost five. Lampkin scrambled for 18. Gartrell scored untouched from the one with 7:38 remaining. The PAT failed, but the lead was reduced to 42-27.
A second onside kickoff attempt was not successful, and the Bulldogs started from the LC 45. Harlem ran off over four minutes with their strong running game before Willis broke up a fleaflicker pass play on 4th-&-5.
Starting from their 30, the Devils gained 23 with a pass to Willis and 15 with a pass to Franklin Brown. Lampkin then rushed for 13 to the Bulldog 19. The Devil pass into the endzone was intercepted with just under two minutes remaining. The Bulldogs rushed for a first down to run out the clock and finish the game.
The loss to the Class AAA team drops the Devils to 2-2 with one non-region game remaining.
This Friday the Devils will travel to Elberton for their first game with the Elbert County Blue Devils since Lincolnton and Elberton met there in 1939. The Class AA team is 1-3 after losses to Region 8-A teams Commerce (55-28) and Washington-Wilkes (42-7 last Friday). The Granite Bowl, considered one of the most unique high school stadiums in the country, is located downtown. Suggested parking is behind the courthouse and along downtown streets. The kickoff is set for 7:30. Go Devils!