ROCHELLE, Ga. --- The overflow crowd at Donnie Clack Stadium was in place and ready to go.
The home team wasn't.
Wilcox County played a first quarter unlike any other this year, watching Lincoln County turn mistakes into points and threatening to take care of any postgame traffic jam early.
But the Patriots shrugged off the funk, pulled within two points at halftime and took over in the second half to beat Lincoln County 34-24 Friday night in a GHSA Class A quarterfinal game.
Wilcox County advances with a 12-1 record while Lincoln County's season ends at 11-2.
Quarterback Lorenzo Dennard started off slowly but regrouped to throw for 285 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Deauntay Legrier scored three touchdowns and played momentum-changing defense to lead the way for Wilcox County.
Lincoln County thought it had control with first-half leads of 21-0 and 24-6 only for Wilcox County to put two touchdowns on the board in the second quarter and turn a potential rout into a nailbiter.
Wilcox County's defense, especially middle linebacker Legrier, was raring to go and stopped Lincoln County on three plays to open the second half only to give it back on an interception. The Patriots held on three plays and started rolling.
The hosts faced only one third down on the drive, and that was their final play, a 10-yard surge by Legrier for the touchdown and finally the lead.
The conversion pass failed, but the Patriots led 28-24 with 3:34 left in the third.
Lincoln County tried to answer, but running back A.G. Middlebrooks, taking the direct snap, stumbled untouched for a 2-yard loss on fourth-and-1.
The Patriots made it hurt. Wilcox County converted a third down and fourth down on the 11-play drive with Legrier going in from 2 yards out.
And the team that trailed 21-0 earlier had, despite a failed conversion pass, a 34-24 lead with 6:50 left.
Lincoln County took advantage of mistakes early on.
Keestan Wynn blocked a punt, thanks mainly to a snap that bounced back to T.J. Merritt. The Red Devils scored three plays later.
Then, DeChane Willis picked off a pass less than 80 seconds later to give Lincoln County the ball on the 6. Jafabian Green went in on the first play.
Wilcox County suffered through another three-and-out, and Alex Ellis took the punt on the 49, went left and stopped after crossing the goal line.
Barely six minutes had ticked off the clock, and Lincoln County was up 21-0.
Wilcox County finally got going on the next possession. A 36-yard reception by Willie Gibson and 38-yarder by Alfonzo Dennard highlighted the drive, ending with Legrier's 1-yard score, which Lincoln County answered with a field goal.
The Patriots remained revitalized, and led 24-21 at halftime.
"I hated to go in. I wanted to stay out and keep playing." Wilcox County coach Mark Leford said.
WILCOX COUNTY 34, LINCOLN COUNTY 24
Lincoln County 21 3 0 0 -- 24
Wilcox County 6 16 6 6 -- 34
LC--Austin Goldman 1 run (Vance Tarver kick), 9:27
LC--Jafabian Green 6 run (Tarver kick), 7:50
LC--Alex Ellis 49 punt return (Tarver kick), 5:45
WC--Deauntay Legrier 1 run (kick blocked), 1:42
LC--Tarver 25 FG, 11:20
WC--Willie Gibson 57 pass from Lorenzo Dennard (L. Dennard run), 7:44
WC--Alfonzo Dennard 32 pass from Lorenzo Dennard (L. Dennard run), 0:45
WC--Legrier 11 run (pass failed), 3:34
WC--Legrier 3 run (pass failed), 6:50
First Downs LC7 WC16
Rushes yards LC119 WC124
Passing Yards LC30 WC287
Comp.-Att.-Int. LC6-11-0 WC15-32-2
Fumbles lost LC0 WC0
Punts-Yards LC3-33.3 WC1-30.0
Penalties-Yards LC7-55 WC7-50
PASSING--Lincoln County: Goldman 6-11-0 30. Wilcox County: L. Dennard 15-32-2 287.
Lincoln County 11-2; Wilcox County 12-1. Wilcox County vs. Athens Academy next Friday at the Georgia Dome.