Lincoln comes up short at South Laurel; falls 33-27

Published 11:40 am Tuesday, October 31, 2017

LONDON — Lincoln County quarterback Bryson Yaden threw for three touchdown passes and Darius Napier added a rushing TD, but it wouldn’t be enough to give the Patriots that elusive district win.

South Laurel’s senior quarterback Adrian Fultz rushed for touchdown runs of 23, 17, 10 and 9 yards and connected for one touchdown pass to lead the homestanding Cardinals to a 33-27 Class 5A, District 7 win over the Patriots as both teams closed out their district schedules.

Lincoln (3-6, 0-3 district) was up 27-19 late in the third quarter when Fultz captained a South Laurel rally. Fultz, who rushed for 121 yards on 18 carries, went in from 10-yards out just seconds into the fourth quarter to cut the Patriot lead to 27-25, then, after Lincoln went 3-and-out, he captained the game-winning drive.  The eight-play series covered 93 yards and included a first-down run by Fultz and first-down pass plays to Matthew Dalton and Logan Madden before Fultz ran nine yards to the goal line for the winning touchdown with 28.4 seconds left.

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“When you let a team hang around, a team hang around that you feel that you can get … They’re a good football team, but we thought that we could get them,” Lincoln coach Travis Leffew said. “We let them hang around, let them believe in it and then they played and they got us.”

Yaden, who was 11-for-25 for 213 yards and three touchdowns, attempted to get Lincoln back in the end zone before the final horn sounded, but a rush for minus yardage and two incomplete passes set the Patriots back, then the Cardinals (4-5, 1-2) picked off a hail mary pass as the horn sounded to end the game.

Lincoln led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, with Napier, who had 78 yards on 23 carries before going out with an injury late in the game, capping off the game’s opening drive with a 3-yard touchdown. Fultz evened the game with his first touchdown early in the second quarter only to have Yaden answer just over three minutes later with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Sawyer Carrier to make it 14-7.

The Patriots still held to a 14-13 lead after Futltz’s second rushing TD, when the Cardinals could not convert on the point after attempt. However, South Laurel would edge in front 19-14 before the half, with Fultz hitting Dalton for a 7-yard TD pass.

“It’s just back and forth,” Leffew said of Lincoln’s propensity to trade touchdowns with opponents. “Defensively, we’ve got to find it somehow.”

Lincoln retook the lead with 8:00 to go in the third quarter when Yaden and Josh Salyers connected for a 55-yard scoring pass for a 21-19 advantage. That lead had grown to 27-19 with just 3:52 to go in the period after another Yaden-to-Carrier pass, this one a 39-yard completion.

But Fultz would negate Lincoln’s lead, securing the Cardinals’ victory with his two fourth-quarter TDs.
Leffew says lack of numbers does nothing to help his team when it goes up against teams with larger rosters. South Laurel has 52 players on its roster.

“Depth kills us,” he said. “We don’t have any depth, no depth at all, so we’re going both ways, special teams and everything. We’re a 5A school with 1,200 kids and we’ve got 34 that played tonight in jerseys.”

That lack of numbers and depth, however, does not mean a lack of heart.

“I’ve got a very good football team that works hard and plays hard and plays for the Patriot name, so we’ll just keep driving,” he said.

Lincoln finished with 355 yards total offense, 142 rushing. Tra Carey had 41 yards on 17 carries and Yaden had 23 yards on two carries. Salyers had 10 catches for 109 yards and a touchdown, Carrier had three catches for 91 yards and two TDs and Napier had one catch for 13 yards. 

Defensively, Salyers led the Patriots with 15 tackles (six solo, nine assisted) and Ethan Carman had 11 tackles (five solo, six assisted).

South Laurel had 403 yards offense, 255 yards rushing. Ace Allen followed Fultz with 40 yards on six carries. Dalton was the Cardinals’ top receiver with 81 yards and a touchdown off seven catches. Madden had 47 yards on one pass.

Lincoln is headed for postseason play in two weeks and, while the Patriots know they are the fourth seed in District 7, they have to wait until Friday night to know just who they play.

“We’re the four seed so we’re going to the one seed somewhere,” said Leffew. “It think it might be North Laurel, coming back down here to play in London.”

Regardless of who Lincoln has in the district, though, Leffew says he expects the Pats to be focused on Friday’s regular-season finale against Montgomery County.

“Right now it’s gut-checking time,” he said. “I told them we’ve got to figure it out. They can cash it in, but I really think these guys will come back, pick it up Monday and we’ll get after a good Montgomery County football team.”