Devils Cage Commerce Tigers, Host First Round Playoff Game

November 06, 2021

LINCOLNTON - Lincoln County whipped the Commerce Tigers 35-6 here last Friday to finish the regular season tied with Washington-Wilkes atop the Region 8-A Public standings.

Both schools finish the region schedule with 4-1 records. W-W will be the #1 playoff seed thanks to their 44-36 win over the Devils. Lincoln County is the #2 seed, followed by Social Circle third and Commerce fourth.

The Devils will host the #3 team from Region 6-A Public, Mt. Zion of Carroll County. The Eagles have only met the Red Devils once, with the west Georgia team winning 10-7 in Lincolnton in 2015. They are 7-3, with two of the losses coming to 6-A stalwarts Bowdon and Trion.

The GHSA has mandated that all Class A Public, Class A Private, and Class 6A first round playoff games be played on Saturday due to a shortage of playoff-qualified officials. Tickets must be purchased online using GoFan (app or www.gofan.co). Kickoff is set for 5:00 on November 13.

Tevin Gartrell went over a thousand yards rushing for the season with 147 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Semaji Jenkins ran for a TD and 106 yards on 11 touches. Jenkins caught a 62-yard pass from Trey Huff, who scored on two runs. The Devils more than doubled Commerce yards, 359 to 178.

Coach Lee Chomskis and his coaching staff developed and implemented a strong game plan to defeat a team that had beaten Washington-Wilkes 31-20 a week earlier. The result was the best overall effort by the Red Devils in many games.

The Red Devils took the opening kickoff and set the tone for the night when they went for the first down when facing 4th-&-2 at their own 30. Huff kept the pigskin and made the first down by half a football. Jenkins rushed for 14 and then seven on the next two plays. C. J. Zellars twice ran for six. Gartrell went around left end for 20 to the Commerce 15. Jenkins gained nine before Huff went right, bounced and spun twice, and stepped into the end zone on a 6-yard scoring run. Cameron Miller booted the PAT to give the Devils a 7-0 lead with 5:23 left in the opening quarter. The 14-play drive took over six and a half minutes off the clock.

The visiting Tigers responded with a 15-play, 68-yard drive that consumed over eight minutes. The four-yard TD run came after Commerce twice converted on 4th-&-1 situations. The Devils blocked the extra point kick to preserve a 7-6 lead.

The Devils muffed the ensuing kickoff with Commerce recovering at the LC 29. The Devil Defense responded well to stop the drive at the 24 with a pass falling incomplete on fourth down.

Jenkins got just behind the Tiger defenders and caught Huff's pass around the Tiger 40 and ran to the Commerce 11. The 62-yard pass and Gartrell's 11-yard touchdown run on the next play reversed the momentum that Commerce had taken with the muffed kickoff recovery. Gartrell's gain put him over 3,000 yards during his Devil career. Miller's kick gave the Devils a 14-6 advantage with 4:32 left in the half.

Zellars stopped the Tiger ballcarrier for a two-yard loss at their 29 to force a punt that rolled to the LC 38. Jenkins ran for 30 yards. Gartrell rushed for 14 and then nine yards. Huff gained three and a first down at the Tiger six. Three plays later Huff dropped back to pass, but then worked his way through the defenders to the end zone. The six-yard run came with thirty seconds left before halftime. The Devils, celebrating Senior Recognition, led 21-6 at the break.

The Tigers came out growling in the second half. A 20-yard kickoff return was followed by an 18-yard run. A flag for hitting out-of-bounds added 15 to the LC 27. Commerce was successful on two short third downs to reach 1st-&-goal at the four. Two plays gained three yards before the Devil Defense caused and recovered a fumble at the one. A personal foul by Commerce gained a first down before Judson Beggs booted a 46-yard punt to the Commerce 30.

Commerce drove 14 plays to reach the LC 10 with 4th-&-4. The Devils almost sacked the Tiger QB before his pass into the end zone fell incomplete. The scoreless drive took over eight minutes off the game clock.

From his 10, Jenkins rushed for 13. Gartrell broke one tackle at the line of scrimmage and scampered 27 yards to the 50. Franklin Brown rushed for 11. Gartrell hit the after-burners for 39 yards and a touchdown. The PAT kick was good, and the Devils had a commanding 28-6 lead with 5:21 left in the game.

Commerce had to pass, and on first down the Tigers' aerial was intercepted by Zellars at the Tiger 43. Jenkins for seven and Gartrell for 16 reached the 20. Two runs by Jenkins gained 16. Gartrell added two before Jenkins scored from the three. The PAT set the final score at 35-6 with 1:37 remaining.

After the first drive, the Tigers ran 13 plays inside the LC 20. The Devil defense stopped them every time.

The 29-point loss by Commerce was its worst region loss since 2012, and tied its worst loss of this season (37-8 to Pickens).