Devil Comeback Comes Up Short Against Commerce

September 18, 2022

(COMMERCE, GA) Lincoln County came back in the second half before falling to the Commerce Tigers 28-12 in a non-region matchup here last Friday night.

Both teams failed to make a first down on their opening possessions. After the exchange of punts, the Tigers started at the LC 40 after a short Devil punt went out-of-bounds. Three runs by Commerce's outstanding sophomore running back Jaiden Daniels gained 15 before he scampered the final 25 down the left side to paydirt. With the PAT kick, the Tigers led their Homecoming game 7-0 with 5:34 left in the opening quarter.

Mekhi Wade twice rushed for 14 yards to reach the Commerce 42. A Devil ballcarrier gained seven more before the pigskin squirted loose with the Tigers recovering at their 35. The Devil Defense held Commerce to only six yards to force a punt to the LC 24.

Trey Huff completed a 13-yard pass to Josiah Claxton-Jones before Wade rushed for 11 to midfield. A 15-yard targeting penalty moved the ball to the Commerce 32. Franklin Brown, seeing his first action since being injured in the first quarter of the season, rushed for six. A holding flag put the Devils in a 2nd-&-15 hole. On fourth down Huff connected with Brown but the officials marked the ball just shy of the spot needed for the first down near the Tiger 23.

Daniels broke three tackles while rambling for 48 yards to the LC 29. Four plays later he rushed for 16 before scoring from the 3. With just under four minutes left before halftime, the Tigers led 14-0.

Jenkins rushed for 18 to the Commerce 45 before a holding penalty and a ball-handling miscue put the Devils in a deep hole at their 31. Huff, punting since Judson Beggs is nursing a knee injury, boomed a 40-yard punt to the Tiger 35. Daniels picked up 30 yards on 3 plays before the time clicked off to end the half.

The Devils started the second half in good field position at their 43, but were unable to make a first down and punted to the Commerce 22. Jacari Huff rushed for four before breaking untouched on a 74-yard scoring jaunt. The PAT kick with 9:28 left in the third gave the home team a commanding 21-0 lead.

Lincoln County began on its 42 but faced 4th-&-4 at its 48. Rather than punting, Jenkins made a good run for 13 yards and a first down at the Tiger 39. Huff found Jack Antonakos open deep for 31 yards to the 5. Huff rushed for two followed by one by Wade and one by Claxton-Jones. On 4th-&-goal at the one, Huff kept the pigskin and went over the goal-line for the score. The PAT pass failed, but the Devils were on the scoreboard, 21-6, with four minutes left in the third.

The Devils scuffed an onside kickoff, recovering at the Commerce 37. Huff passed 25 yards deep left, with Brown making a diving catch. From the 12, three plays gained six yards. On fourth down, Huff passed and the Devil receiver was hit at the goal line. The officials threw a flag, but then, after huddling, picked up the flag with no penalty. Red Devil fans thought either targeting or interference should be called. The Tigers took over at the 6 with 2:06 left in the third.

The Devil Defense forced a punt, with Jenkins returning 13 yards to midfield. Offsetting penalties nullified an interception. Jenkins gained two for a first down at the Tiger 39. A horse-collar tackle infraction provided the Devils a first down at the 17. Jenkins then made a great catch over the middle of a Huff pass for 17 and a touchdown. The score came with 8:34 left in the final period. The PAT pass failed, but the deficit had been cut to 21-12.

The Tigers, primarily on the running of Huff, drove 57 yards on 12 plays to take over eight minutes off the clock. Huff scored on a one-yard run with 29 seconds remaining. The PAT kick put the Tigers up 28-12.

The Devils completed a 10-yard pass before the Tigers intercepted a pass as time ran out. Commerce, playing in Class A Division I, won the game 28-12. Daniels and Huff combined for 30 carries for 282 yards and four touchdowns. They accounted for all but 30 yards of Tiger offense.

For Lincoln County, Huff completed eight of 17 passes for 112 yards with one touchdown and one interception, and ran eight times for 16 yards with one TD. Brown led the receivers with four catches for 50 yards. Jenkins rushed nine times for 53 yards, and caught two passes for 18 yards and a TD.

The Red Devils will travel to Augusta this Friday to face the Richmond Academy Musketeers at 7:30. ARC, the oldest high school in the area, plays at the school campus on Walton Way. The Class AAA school is 3-1 after decisively winning their last three games against Josey, Savannah, and East Laurens.

THE STATS
First Downs - LC 12, C 10
Rushing - LC 35/132/1 - C 38/312/4
Passing - 8/13/112/1/1 - C 0/0/0/0/0
Punts - LC 3/32 - C 3/43
Penalties - LC 6/40 - C 6/65
Returns - LC 6/53 - C 3/5
Fumbles/Lost - LC 2/1 - C 0/0