(LINCOLNTON, GA) Lincoln County overcame an early 12-0 Emanuel County Institute (ECI) lead, but was unable to stop the quick Bulldogs from the south. The visitors handed the Devils their first loss, 41-27.
QB Trey Huff returned to the lineup after his shoulder injury two weeks earlier. Huff ran eight times for 2 TDs and 59 yards. The senior completed five of 12 passes for 38 yards, and also played defense. Semaj Jenkins rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown on ten carries. As a team, the Devils ran for 242 yards on 34 carries, with 280 yards in offense.
The visitors totaled 251 yards on 41 carries, adding 109 yards on nine pass completions. ECI senior running back PJ Farnum was the star with 184 carries on 22 yards. Those numbers include scoring runs of 46 and 29 yards in the fourth quarter.
On a comfortable Friday evening with a threat of rain, Lincoln County took the opening kickoff but lost four yards on three rushing plays and punted. Farnum rushed for 22 yards and a first down at the LC 39 on the Bulldogs' first offensive play. ECI's big back, sophomore Brian Steele, powered forward for 17 yards to the LC 20. Farnum and Steele alternated until Steele scored from three yards out. The PAT kick failed but the visitors led 6-0 with just under seven minutes left in the first quarter.
The Red Devils came up two yards short of the line to gain on their next possession, punting to the Bulldogs at the ECI 22. The team from Twin City mixed runs with passes to reach the LC 35 where it faced 3rd-&-4. A 26-yard pass earned a first down at the 9. Two plays later Farnum scored from five yards out. The PAT pass fell incomplete, leaving the Bulldogs ahead 12-0 with just over eleven minutes left before the bands performed on-field.
Huff passed seven yards to Christian Crite to the LC 45. Jenkins broke through the middle for 39 yards to the ECI 16. Huff found Jack Antonakos crossing the field for 10 yards to the four. Three plays later Jenkins scored from the five. Abraham Crawford booted the pigskin through the uprights with 7:02 left in the half. Lincoln County now trailed 12-7.
The Bulldogs were unable to make a first down and punted from their 38. Devil pressure and poor handling of the snap led to a punt of zero yards. Huff made three good moves up the middle to gain 11 yards to the 21. He added four more before Mekhi Wade went left for 13 yards, and then rushed for 3 to the one. Huff sneaked the ball up the middle for the touchdown with 1:36 left in the half. Crawford was good on the PAT kick, and Lincoln County had taken a 14-12 lead.
Unfortunately that lead, Lincoln's only one of the game, would be short-lived. ECI returned the kickoff about 50 yards to the LC 28. Three plays later, with just under a minute left in the half, the Bulldogs scored on a 25-yard pass when the receiver worked his way behind the Devil defenders in the end zone. ECI's kick gave the Bulldogs a 19-14 advantage at the break.
The Bulldogs kept the momentum on their side as they took the second half kickoff and returned the pigskin twenty yards. An unsportsmanlike penalty on the Lincoln County sideline put the ball at the LC 39. The Bulldogs mixed short runs and passes until Steele scored from the one with 5:16 left in the third. The PAT kick was good after the 12-play drive, putting the visitors up 26-14.
But Red Devils never quit. Huff completed an 18-yard pass to Josiah Claxton-Jones to the LC 27. Jones then ran for 12. Jenkins rushed for 25 before Wade went up the right side for 16. Three plays later Jenkins gained 11 to the ECI 9. A flag cost five before Huff gained 2 running to the left behind a wall of blockers. Claxton-Jones scored from the two on the first play of the fourth quarter. The PAT pass failed, but the deficit had been cut to six points, 26-20.
On 1st-&-20 at the LC 46, the speedster Farnum went around the right side and was gone to paydirt. The PAT pass was good for a 34-20 ECI lead with 9:18 left in the game.
Lincoln County returned the next kickoff 20 yards but the ball popped loose with the Bulldogs recovering at the LC 36. The Devil Defense held and forced a punt to the LC 20.
Huff gained ten yards to the 30, but the drive ended on downs at the 29. Farnum again hit his afterburners and scored on a 29-yard run with 5:18 remaining. The Bulldogs led 41-20.
Jenkins rushed for 29 yards to the ECI 30 on the next offensive play. Five plays later Huff went right and scored on an 18-yard run with 3:28. Crawford booted the kick to cut the lead to 41-27.
ECI rushed for two touchdowns to run out the clock. ECI improves to 1-1 with our Devils now 2-1. This was a non-region contest between Class A Division II schools.
This game was only the ninth time in the Devils' history that at least 41 points were allowed at home. This was only the 18th time overall, in 1,104 games since 1922, that a Lincolnton varsity team allowed 41 or more.
The Red Devils have an open date this week as they prepare to trek to Commerce for a non-region game with those Tigers September 16.
First Downs - LC 13, ECI 17
Rushing - LC 34/252/4 - ECI 41/251/5
Passing - LC 12/5/38/0/0 - ECI 12/9/109/0/1
Punting - 3/33 - ECI 2/9
Penalties - LC 6/40 - ECI 7/45
Fumbles/Lost - LC 1/1 - ECI 0/0
Return Yards - LC 6/57 - ECI 6/74