Pats win fourth straight; take down Titans 28-14

Published 12:09 pm Thursday, September 20, 2018

HARRODSBURG — The Lincoln County football team won its fourth straight game Friday night, defeating host Mercer County 28-14 at Alvis Johnson Field.

“That’s what we’re striving to do – win every week,” Lincoln coach Spencer Crutchfield said. “We definitely want to go out and get the win every time we step on the field.”

With the win, the Patriots surpassed their win total from last year (3), improving to 4-1 this season. Mercer dropped to 1-4.

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As pleased as he was with the “W,” Crutchfield said he did not like everything he saw on the gridiron in the Patriots’ first road game.

“We played with no emotion in the first half and I challenged them. We have to dig deep and see what we’re about,” he said. “I said you have games where things just don’t go your way, you’re not doing things right, you’re not holding onto the football. I challenged those kids and they stepped up. They didn’t play perfect football but they definitely stood up and fought and that’s all I can ask of them.”

Things did not look good for Lincoln early as Mercer running back Malachi Yulee took the first play from the line of scrimmage in for a score. Yulee, who rushed for 196 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, ran 60 yards to the goal line to give the Titans a 7-0 lead just 15 seconds into the game.

“They did a great job. Give Coach (David) Buchanan credit,” Crutchfield said of Mercer’s quick score. “They caught us in a 4-4, they widened us out and we didn’t recognize it. Our linebackers didn’t recognize it. Our D tackles didn’t recognize it. They widened the gaps and we didn’t squeeze well enough and they gashed us. That happens. That was a coaching mistake on our part. But we responded. We came back and only gave up seven points for the rest of the game.”

Lincoln wasted little time answering Yulee’s opening touchdown, taking its first possession in for a score on the first play as well. The opening drive culminated in a 24-yard touchdown run by Darius Napier. Loren Melton added the point after kick to even the score at 7-all.

A Mercer fumble midway through the first period set up Napier’s second score of the night. Lincoln took possession at the Mercer 43 and, eight plays later, Napier, who finished with 81 yards and three TDs on 15 rushes, carried the ball in from the 4 for a 14-7 lead with 44.9 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Patriots recovered another Titan fumble on the ensuing possession, but the drive would stall at the Mercer 22. Melton, who was 4-for-4 on point after kicks, attempted a 39-yard field goal. The kick had the distance but was wide right.

Lincoln never trailed again, but Mercer would knot up the game before the half. Yulee scored his second touchdown with 2:53 left in the second quarter, carrying the ball in from the 6-yard line to make it 14-14.

Mercer struck quickly in the first half. Lincoln struck a little bit quicker to start the second half.

It took just 11 seconds for the Patriots to break the 14-14 tie, with Zack Hazlett returning the second-half opening kickoff 63 yards for a touchdown and a 21-14 Lincoln lead.

The night’s scoring ended with Napier crossing the goal line once again. The senior back pushed his way in from the 5-yard line with 10:17 to play for the 28-14 final.

“Our focus wasn’t there, but our effort was. That’s the key,” said Crutchfield. “Effort makes up for a lot and those kids … I have to give it to them. They battled their butts off.”

On paper, Mercer surpassed Lincoln offensively, finishing with 387 total yards on 42 plays compared to Lincoln’s 268 yards offense on 54 plays.The Titans had 285 yards rushing. The Patriots rushed for 166 yards. Bryson Yaden completed 11 of 15 passes for Lincoln for 102 yards and Kaelin Drakeford was 7 of 12 for 102 for Mercer. Both had one interception.

“A lot of that is because we caused turnovers,” Crutchfield said of Mercer’s offense. “We let them move the ball, but we caused turnovers. That was huge. We forced a lot of turnovers. Definitely proud of those guys.”

Lincoln forced five Mercer fumbles and got possession on four. Levi Daugherty, Tyler Williams, Napier and Yaden each had a fumble recovery.

Defensively, Hunter Combs led the Patriots with eight tackles, four solos and four assists. Napier and Justin Bryant each had seven tackles, with Napier getting five solos and Bryant, two. Burchfield finished with six tackles, two solos and four assists.

Lincoln is idle this Friday night, but there will be no break in the Patriots’ practice schedule.

“We’ve been lucky and fortunate enough to win four in a row. Now, we’ve just got to go back and get to work and keep getting better and better,” Crutchfield said.

at Alvis Johnson Field
Lincoln 14 0 7 7 – 28
Mercer 7 7 0 0 – 14

1st Qtr
Mercer: 11:45 – Malachi Yulee 60-yard run (Christina McClain kick).
Lincoln: 6:06 – Darius Napier 24-yard run (Loren Melton kick).
Lincoln: :44.9 – Napier 4-yard run (Melton kick).

2nd Qtr
Mercer: 2:53 – Yulee 6-yard run (McClain kick).

3rd Qtr
Lincoln: 11:49 – Zack Hazlett 63-yard kickoff return (Melton kick).

4th Qtr
Lincoln: 10:47 – Napier 5-yard run (Melton kick).

Game Stats
Rushing 39-166 30-285
Passing 11-15-1 7-12-1
Yards 102 102
Total Off./Yds. 54-268 42-387
First Downs 14 15
Fumbles/Lost 3/0 5/4

Individual Stats
Darius Napier: 15 carries, 81 yards, 3TDs.
Bryson Yaden: 6 carries, 49 yards.
Dylan Burchfield: 18 carries, 36 yards.

Malachi Yulee: 12 carries, 196 yards, 2 TDs.
Kaelin Drakeford: 8 carries, 61 yards.
Brayden Dunn: 6 carries, 14 yards.
Dillon Warren: 1 carry, 8 yards.
Bryson Yeast: 2 carries, 6 yards.
Easton Cocanaugher: 1 carry, 0 yards.

Bryson Yaden – 11-15, 102 yards.
Lane ; Nick Harris – 3-29; Darius Napier – 3-21; Sawyer Carrier – 1-9.

Kailen Drakeford – 7-12-1, 102 yards, TD.
Trevor Allen – 1-50 yards; Jon Jon Logue – 3-30; Brayden Dunn – 1-12; Lane Horn – 1-6;Micheal Johnson – 1-4.