Lincoln County earned its record seventh invitation to the Dome Semifinals with a 22-0 shutout of the Twiggs County Cobras in the Class A quarterfinals. Our Devils will face the Johnson County Trojans, 12-1 and 17-14 winners over Bremen Friday night.
The game was highlighted by mistakes, including 21 assessed penalties, nine fumbles, and six interceptions. Scoreless at the half, Lincoln managed a short field goal in the third before scoring 19 points in the final eight minutes.
The flag-happy officials ruled the first half, infuriating both sides of the gridiron. In the first two quarters, Twiggs County was flagged 7 times for 60 yards, with the Devils assessed 8 penalties for 75 yards with two TDs nullified.
Our Devils took the opening kickoff and drove into Cobra territory before the drive fizzled at the Twiggs 41 and LC punted. The Cobras rushed for 1 first down before consecutive penalties forced a punt. Rontae Norman returned the punt 55 yards for a touchdown, but the score was nullified by an illegal block penalty near midfield.
Lincoln's next possession ended with an interception. The Cobras made two first downs on good passing before a fumble gave the Devils the ball at the TC 47. A 44-yard gain by Darrell Norman was cut in half by an illegal block infraction. LC drove to the Twiggs 20 before turning the ball over on downs.
The Devils forced a punt to end Twiggs' next possession, but LC muffed the punt with Twiggs recovering at their 31. On their first play, Ricardo Norman grabbed an interception at the Twiggs 37. After an exchange of punts, Lincoln started from midfield. Two plays later, Brandon Barden connected with Darrell Norman in the endzone for an apparent touchdown, but an illegal procedure flag called the play back. The first half ended scoreless.
Twiggs County's star running back JoJo Cox apparently suffered a dislocated shoulder at the end of the first half, and did not return to the game. We wish JoJo a quick recovery from his injury.
Lincoln County forced a Twiggs punt on their first second half possession. Thanks primarily to a 28-yard pass from Barden to Rontae Norman, the Devils managed a 25-yard field goal by Chase McGill with 5:19 left in the third to take a 3-0 lead.
The Cobras came right back, driving from their 35 to the Lincoln 35 before Darrell Norman intercepted a Twiggs pass at the Lincoln 20 to stop what would be Twiggs only serious threat of the night. The Devils had to punt, with Twiggs starting from their 14 early in the final period. Ricardo Norman recovered a Cobra fumble at the TC 24 with 9:50 left. Barden rushed for 6 and then 5 for a first down at the 13. Rontae gained 9 for first-&-goal at the 2. One play later Barden scored from the 1 with 7:43 left in the game. The PAT kick was wide, leaving Lincoln ahead 9-0.
Midway the fourth, Lincoln started at its 46 after Rontae grabbed his second interception at the LC 46. Shawntavious Jennings then broke through up the middle for 54 yards and the touchdown with 5:17 left. McGill's kick gave the Devils a 16-0 lead.
On the Devils' next possession, Franklin Jones scampered for 22 yards for a 1st-&-goal at the 2. Tyler Beale gained 1 before Barden stretched to get the pigskin over the goalline. The touchdown provided the final 22-point margin.
Darrell Norman finished the game with 69 yards on 10 carries. Jennings carried 5 times for 66 yards and one touchdown. Twiggs managed just 5 yards rushing in the second half. Cox rushed 8 times for 16 yards in the first half.
The Devil defense had their best take-away game in a long time, grabbing 5 interceptions and two Cobra fumbles.
Click here for game story from The Augusta Chronicle.