Pats earn district’s third seed with 35-23 win
Published 2:16 pm Thursday, October 25, 2018
STANFORD — After back-to-back district losses, the Lincoln County Patriot football team got back on the winning track Friday evening with a 35-23 district win over South Laurel.
The win, which improved Lincoln to 6-3 overall, assured the Patriots of the third seed in Class 5A, District 7, which means they will play Letcher County Central, the second-seeded team from District 8, in the first round of the state playoffs.
“We didn’t really do anything pretty but we did enough to get the win and that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day,” Lincoln coach Spencer Crutchfield said. “Definitely proud of these guys. Getting the win and being the third seed means we won’t be playing the top team in the other district to start the playoffs.”
Lincoln and South Laurel (4-5) were locked in a tight contest through three and a half quarters, before a late touchdown by Darius Napier helped put the game out of reach.
The Patriot senior, who rushed for 203 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, tallied his second TD with 5:48 to play, zig-zagging his way through the Cardinal defense for a 54-yard scoring run to extend Lincoln’s lead to 35-23.
South Laurel had two opportunities to try and rally, however, Zack Hazlett would intercept a Logan Gentry pass in the endzone to kill one drive, then the Lincoln defense held the Cardinals on downs on their final possession.
With just 1:33 to go after getting the ball back on downs, the Patriots went into victory formation and proceeded to run out the clock.
“I can never fault their effort. These guys they play their guts out. They definitely fought for this win,” Crutchfield said of the Patriots. “Proud as heck of these kids, especially the seniors – getting a win on their home field the last time they’re going to play on it.”
Lincoln put up 386 yards of total offense in the win, racking up 247 yards and two touchdowns on the ground on 26 carries and 139 yards and a TD through the air. Yaden, a senior, went 8-for-14 for 139 yards with one interception.
Neither team had trouble moving the ball on their first possession. The Patriots marched the opening possession 75 yards to the goal line in eight plays and the Cardinals took their first drive 52 yards in 10 plays.
Yaden capped off the Patriots’ opening drive with a 6-yard run up the middle and Loren Melton booted the point after kick for a 7-0 lead with 9:34 still to go in the first quarter. Ace Allen, who rushed for 157 yards and two scores on 27 rushes for South Laurel, ran for all but three of the Cardinals’ yards in their opening drive, scoring from 18 yards out with 5:26 on the clock.
Lincoln held to a 7-6 lead as South’s point after kick went wide.
A South fumble set up Lincoln’s second touchdown. The Patriots took possession off the fumble at their own 47, but a pass interference and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on South on a Lincoln pass moved the Patriots down to the Cards’ 24-yard line. Two plays later, Yaden hit Sawyer Carrier for a 23-yard touchdown pass to give Lincoln a 14-6 lead five seconds into the second quarter.
The lead lasted just over a minute. Jay Sams, who rushed for 140 yards on 21 carries, broke on a 71-yard scoring run only to have the TD nullified on a block in the back penalty. The penalty put the Cards at the Lincoln 11 and, two plays later with 10:39 on the clock, Allen went in from the 11 for his second score. Sams converted on the two-point try to deadlock the game at 14-all.
That tie lasted all of 21 seconds, with Napier bursting through the Cardinal defense on the first play of the ensuing possession and going 84 yards for a touchdown and a 21-14 Lincoln lead.
Allen, who went 6-for-9 passing for 43 yards, did his best to chip away at Lincoln’s lead before the half, completing a 25-yard touchdown pass to Rafe Shelton to make it 21-20 with 4:50 left in the second quarter. The Cardinals tried to edge ahead of the Pats on the point after try, but Sams was stuffed by the Lincoln “D” on the two-point attempt.
South Laurel would overtake Lincoln in the third quarter, 23-21, with Conner Wilson kicking a 17-yard field goal after the Cards’ drive stalled at the 5.
The Cards quickly regained possession with Lincoln fumbling the ball on its own 20 on the following play, but Gentry, who was 7-for-14 for 75 yards with two interceptions, put up a pass and Justin Bryant jumped up to grab the interception in the end zone to set up Lincoln’s next score.
Yaden completed two passes on the drive, including a 67-yard reception by Carrier to help move the ball down to the Cardinal 9. Yaden capped off the drive with a 9-yard touchdown to put Lincoln up for good, 28-23, with 2:21 left in the third quarter.
Lincoln got the ball back on downs with 7:04 to play and, with 5:48 left, Napier broke on his 54-yard scoring run for the final TD.
“We didn’t play great on either side of the ball but we made plays when it mattered and that’s what it’s all about,” Crutchfield said. “We fumbled the football away a couple times, threw an interception. We gave up some long plays on defense but we also made some big plays on offense. We made some big stops when we needed to. Got some turnovers. That’s the game of football. That’s what we love about it. You always get that second chance.”
South finished with 426 yards total offense, with 308 rushing yards.
Defensively, Dylan Burchfield led the Patriots with 16 tackles, seven solos and nine assists. Hunter Combs had 15 tackles, seven solos, Nick Harris had 12 tackles, five solos, and Mykah Turpin had 11, five solos.
at Lincoln Co.
So. Laurel 6 14 3 7 – 23
Lincoln Co. 7 14 7 7 – 35
Lincoln: 9:34 – Bryson Yaden 6-yard run (Loren Melton kick).
South Laurel: 5:26 – Ace Allen 18-yard run (Kick failed).
Lincoln: 11:55 – Sawyer Carrier 23-yard pass from Yaden (Melton kick).
South Laurel: 10:39 – Allen 11-yard run (Jay Sams run).
Lincoln: 10:18 – Darius Napier 84-yard run (Melton kick).
South Laurel: 4:50 – Gunner Whitaker 25-yard pass from Allen (Run failed).
South Laurel: 4:17 – Conner Wilson 17-yard FG.
Lincoln: 2:21 – Yaden 9-yard run (Melton kick).
Lincoln: 5:48 – Napier 54-yard run (Melton kick).
Rushing 51-308 26-247
Passing 13-23-2 8-14-1
Yards 118 139
Total Off./Yds.74-426 40-386
First Downs 18 11
Fumbles/Lost 2/1 4/3
Penalties 18/129.5 5/40
Ace Allen: 27 carries, 157 yards, 2TDs.
Jay Sams: 21 carries, 140 yards.
Logan Gentry: 3 carries, 11 yards.
Darius Napier: 12 carries, 203 yards, 2TDs.
Bryson Yaden: 9 carries, 32 yards, 2TDs.
Dylan Burchfield: 4 carries, 10 yards.
Levi Daugherty: 1 carry, 2 yards.
Logan Gentry – 7-14-2, 75 yards; Ace Allen – 6-9-0, 43 yards, TD.
Ace Allen – 4-57 yards; Gunner Whitaker – 1-25; Matthew Dalton – 4-22; Daterian Brigance – 2-12; Logan Gentry – 2-2.
Bryson Yaden – 8-14-1, 139 yards, TD.
Sawyer Carrier – 2-91 yards, TD; Darius Napier – 5-32; Dylan Burchfield – 1-16.