Pats ride emotional roller coaster in loss

Published 2:42 pm Thursday, November 2, 2017

STANFORD — Yes! Oh, no!! Yes! Noooo!!!

It was a roller coaster ride of emotions for Lincoln County and the Patriot faithful at Death Valley Stadium Friday night as Lincoln fell 39-33 to visiting Montgomery County in the regular-season football finale.

Lincoln’s players celebrated and their fans jumped and hugged each other in the stands when the Patriots took a 14-0 lead in the first half. But before the first half ended, a silence had fallen over the Lincoln contingency after senior back Tra Carey went out with an ankle injury and the Indians erased the Patriot lead to tie the game 14-14 at the half.

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Montgomery (8-2) pulled ahead in the third quarter and was up 33-17 midway through the third quarter, and it would have been easy for Lincoln (3-7) to have just thrown in the towel. But that wouldn’t happen. Quarterback Bryson Yaden captained a Patriot rally effort, completing an 80-yard touchdown pass to Josh Salyers, then running in a 12-yard touchdown to tie the game at 33-all. 

Justin Korossy would return the ensuing kickoff 81 yards to the goal line to put the Indians back on top, however, with 3:06 to play, Lincoln still had a chance. And Yaden, who was 13-for-19 passing for 177 yards and had 100 yards rushing on 16 carries, almost got the Patriots back in the end zone. He captained an 11-play drive from Lincoln’s own 25 down to Montgomery’s 28 and, on 4th-and-11, he hit Nick Harris with a pass. But the pass play came up a yard short at the 18 and Montgomery proceeded to run out the clock.

“Our kids came out and played hard and fought to the end,” Lincoln County coach Travis Leffew said. “Lincoln County football is turning the corner … A great example is being down tonight how we were down and being able to fight back, come back and having that belief that, ‘Hey, we can win the ballgame.’ Our seniors did a great job of protecting our field. I’m very proud of them tonight.”

Lincoln had fans on their feet early, taking its first possession 67 yards to the end zone. Yaden got Lincoln 1st-and-goal at the 3 with a 5-yard run, then after two offsides penalties against Montgomery, Carey simply tiptoed in for the score. 

The Pats earned their second possession on downs, stopping the Indians at the Lincoln 29. On the first snap of the drive, Carey, who ran for 125 yards on nine carries, broke up the middle and scooted 71 yards to make it 14-0.

Korossy, who rushed for 59 yards on 12 carries, picked up most of his yardage on a 30-yard touchdown run with 6:17 left in the second quarter to get the Indians on the scoreboard.

Carey left the game with just under two minutes to go in the half.

With just 26.2 seconds left before the half, Charles Collins, who rushed for 241 yards and four touchdowns on 18 carries, tallied his first touchdown with a 95-yard run to make it 14-all at the break. Collins’ 23-yard score to start the third quarter gave the Indians their first lead, 20-14.

Emma Kaiser booted a 28-yard field goal with 1:10 left in the third period to make it 20-17. Then Collins answered with a 29-yard TD run to start the fourth quarter. An interception by Ty Eads set up Collins’ final score, a 12-yard run, which made it 33-17.

Josh Salyers had eight receptions for 142 yards for the Patriot offense. Defensively, Christian Vergara and David Brock both had 13 tackles, with Vergara getting eight solo tackles with five assisted while Brock had two solos with 11 assisted. Lane Slone had 10 tackles, two solo tackles and eight assisted.

Carey was one of two players that had to be taken off the field Friday night. Sawyer Carrier was taken from the game on Lincoln’s next to last possession of the night after the tip of the middle finger on his left hand was severed on a pass reception. Despite those key losses and other injuries, Leffew credited his team for stepping up when called to action.

“A lot of guys that don’t get reps in practice played tonight,” Leffew said. “Our guard went down, Tyler Goodin went down, Tra Carey went down, Darius Napier’s not playing, Sawyer Carrier goes out. Kids had to step up and they did a great job of stepping up. It was a great job. I wish we could have pulled it out, but I’m proud of what our kids did.”

“On Senior Night, it’s a night you’ve got to protect your field and show who you really are and I felt like our kids really did that. They came out and played hard and fought to the end. One play here. One play there.  One yard … and we’re still rolling down there . There are some plays I’d love to get back but that’s the greatest thing about football is you have to learn about it and get ready to go again next week.”

And Lincoln will go again next week.

Leffew was not sure in the postgame just who Lincoln would face in next week’s Class 5A playoffs (North Laurel, Whitley County, Harlan County). But he said no matter who it is, Lincoln has to go out and play its best.

“You’ve got to go out and keep playing and keep battling,” he said. “I’ve told these guys we’ve now concluded the second part of the season. It’s playoff time. We’re 0-0. Takes four games to get to Kroger Field and we’ve just got to go out now and have fun and play with everything we’ve got.”