LINCOLNTON, Ga. — Lincoln County knew all about the danger that waited on the sideline.
So Mike McIntire ran – or powered, really – for yards and Ben Turner completed a clutch pass. The yellow flags did the rest as the Red Devils finished a perfect possession without scoring a point.
Lincoln County got the ball back with 5:34 to play and didn’t give it back as the Red Devils hung on at home to beat Wilkinson County, 28-22, on Friday night in a Class A public state playoff quarterfinal game.
“That was just huge. Huge, huge, huge,” Red Devils coach Larry Campbell said about the drive that clinched the win. “You got to give it to the offensive line. And Mike refused to go down.”
McIntire rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Jamar Norman return a punt for a score and Turner threw for 232 yards in a duel with Warriors quarterback David Whipple. The Wilkinson County senior had 237 passing yards in the
After the Warriors’ Shiquez Underwood scored for the second time to make it 28-22 following a two-point conversion, Lincoln County got the ball at its 30 with 5:34 to play. Though the Red Devils defense forced three three-and-outs in the second half against Whipple and the Warriors offense, they didn’t want the four-year starter to finish the game with back-to-back touchdown drives.
McIntire and the offense came through. McIntire rushed for 41 yards on the possession, even though the Warriors often knew he would get the ball. McIntire chugged forward and moved the pile during the drive as the Red Devils (11-1) used up the clock.
Also, at a crucial moment, Wilkinson County elected to take a holding penalty on third down to give Lincoln County a second chance on third down. Turner then tossed up a pass and saw yellow when a pass interference call gave the Red Devils the first down.
Later, the teams got a little physical in the trenches after snaps, with personal foul calls moving Lincoln County deeper into Wilkinson County’s side of the field. After a string of penalties, the game ended, though 18.3 seconds remained on the scoreboard clock well after the game finished amid confusion as to how much time was left – or if there was any at all – because of the personal foul penalties.
Earlier, offenses were dangerous through the air during a pair of 14-0 runs to keep it tied at the half. Each side also had a turnover to assist the other’s back-to-back touchdown runs.
For Lincoln County, Turner found Zireycus Letman near the sideline three different times. One nice catch scored a touchdown early in the game. Another receiver, Jalen Franklin, had 30 yards in two quarters before he erupted for 84 in the second half.
From the other sideline, Whipple kept on throwing against the Red Devils defense. He had 22 throws in the first half, good for 144 yards and a touchdown. Whipple connected with six different players before halftime.
But Lincoln County got Norman’s 37-yard punt return for the lead and held onto it.