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Pats hold off Woodford in DVB

STANFORD — Lincoln County scored 14 first-half points and then withstood a second-half Woodford County charge to defeat the visiting Yellow Jackets Friday night in the opening game of the PBK/WPBK-FM Death Valley Bowl.

Lincoln’s season opener wasn’t necessarily a thing of beauty as mistakes – nine penalties for over 70 yards and two turnovers – helped keep Woodford in the game.

However, the Patriots made the plays they needed, when they needed them to hang on for the season-opening DVB win.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game. They are a heckuva football team,” Lincoln coach Spencer Crutchfield said of Woodford. “Luckily, the ball bounced our way. They had all the momentum in the second half and we didn’t really do the things necessary to win the ballgame. We made way too many mental mistakes, turned the football over. We’re very, very lucky to get out of here with the win.”

Lincoln (1-0) never trailed in the game. After a scoreless first quarter, Levi Daugherty got the Patriots on the scoreboard a minute into the second period with an 80-yard fumble return. The Yellow Jackets (0-1) were threatening inside the Patriot 20 when Daugherty, Lincoln’s Player of the Game, stripped the ball from Amartae Rice and turned and rumbled all the way to the goal line. Loren Melton added the first of his three point after kicks after the score for a 7-0 lead.

Less than two minutes later, Lincoln was back in the endzone for its second score. It was a short drive – 16 yards in three plays – with Rafe Shelton recovering a Coy Hayes fumble on the first play of Woodford’s next possession. Quarterback Nick Harris capped off the abbreviated drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Troy Gowins to put Lincoln up 14-0 with 9:07 left in the first half.

After the Patriot defense forced the Yellow Jackets into a quick 3-and-out, Lincoln fans were on their feet again as Harris hooked up with Gowins for a long pass which appeared destined for the endzone. Unfortunately, for Lincoln, Gowins was stripped of the ball and the Yellow Jackets took possession at their own 10 yard line.

The two Woodford fumbles were not the only drives where the Yellow Jackets got in the red zone. Woodford was driving inside the Lincoln 15 on its first possession when Dylan Burchfield intercepted a Bryce Patterson pass to end the drive. Clayton Davis, who led the Patriot defense with 11 tackes, six solo, tipped the pass and Burchfield was there for the pick.

Woodford had to punt away its last two possessions of the first half, with Lincoln taking a 14-0 lead into the break.

“We played solid in the first half, but we still did things the wrong way,” said Crutchfield. “We’ve got to learn to come out … You’ve got to jump on teams and stay on them. You can’t let them hang around. We didn’t do that. We didn’t put them away in the first half.”

“We had a couple drives, a couple turnovers. We fumbled inside the 20. That’s first-game stuff and we hope to get that cleaned up.”

The Yellow Jacket offense would finish the job on its first drive of the second half, capping off the five-play, 80-yard drive with a touchdown pass. Patterson moved play along with a 13-yard first-down pass to Skyelar Johnson to take the ball out to the Woodford 34. Three plays later, Johnson, who caught nine passes for 164 yards and was Woodford’s Player of the Game, pulled in a 61-yard pass to get the Yellow Jackets on the scoreboard with 10:03 on the clock. Joey Whitehead booted the point after kick.

The Johnson TD reception was the only score of the third quarter. Lincoln turned the ball over on an interception and then had to punt the ball away while Woodford had to punt and was held on downs on its other two possessions.

Lincoln lineman Cody Miracle sacked Patterson on the final Woodford possession of the third quarter to set the Patriots up at their own 29. Three plays later on the first play of the fourth quarter, Harris, who went 8-for-14 for 157 yards, hit Zack Hazlett for a 66-yard touchdown pass to give the Patriots a 21-7 advantage.

Lincoln needed that cushion to survive Woodford’s late charge.

Patterson captained a successful 55-yard drive late in the game. The sophomore QB, who went 16-for-30 for 223 yards and led the team’s rush with 57 yards on 14 carries, completed 5 of 8 passes in the drive for 38 yards and ran for 10 before capping the possession with a 1-yard plunge to get the Yellow Jackets within 21-14 with 2:54 to play.

The ball was back in Woodford’s hands with 1:43 left after Lincoln was unable to move the ball.

The Yellow Jackets made the most of the game’s final drive, starting at their own 23 and driving inside the Patriot 15 before time ran out. Patterson completed three passes to help move the ball along and the Patriots were whistled for two personal foul penalties to set Woodford up at the Lincoln 12 with just seconds to play. Caught in the backfield, Patterson tried to flip the ball out to JD Alexander but time expired before he could make the throw.

While disappointed in Lincoln’s turnovers and penalties, Crutchfield was all smiles following Friday’s win – a stark contrast to how he left his first DVB game last year, a 41-0 loss to Somerset.

“Very different than last year. At this time last year, I was looking around like what in the world have I gotten myself into,” he said. “Definitely happy for those seniors to go out with a win in their last Death Valley Bowl. But now we’ve got a lot of work to do because we’ve got another tough team, East Jessamine, coming in here next week.”

Lincoln had 218 yards offense in its season opener, rushing for 61 yards on 30 plays and passing for 157 yards on eight completions. Rodney Alcorn led Lincoln’s ground game with 49 yards on 16 carries. Hazlett had three pass receptions for 77 yards and Gowins had four for 68.

Woodford out offensed Lincoln, amassing 311 total yards. The Yellow Jackets gained 88 yards on 33 rushing plays and passed for 223 yards on 16 completions.

Death Valley Bowl
at Lincoln Co.

Woodford 0 0 7 7 – 14
Lincoln0 14 0 7 – 21

Scoring
2nd Qtr
Lincoln: 11:00 – Levi Daugherty 80-yard fumble recovery. (Loren Melton kick).
Lincoln: 9:07 – Troy Gowins 9-yard pass from Nick Harris (Melton kick).

3rd Qtr
Woodford: 10:03 – Skyelar Johnson 61-yard pass from Bryce Patterson (Joey Whitehead kick).

4th Qtr
Lincoln: 11:50 – Zack Hazlett 66-yard pass from Harris (Melton kick).
Woodford: 2:52 – Patterson 1-yard run (Whitehead kick).

Game Stats
WC LC
Rushing 33-88 30-61
Passing 16-30-1 8-14-1
Yards 223 157
Total Off./Yds 63-311 44-218
First Downs 14 5
Fumbles/Lost 2/2 1/1
Penalties 10/75 9/71

Individual Stats
Rushing
Woodford
Bryce Patterson: 14 carries, 57 yards, TD.
Amartae Rice: 11 carries, 15 yards.
Coy Hayes: 2 carries, 10 yards.
JD Alexander: 2 carries, 6 yards.
Malik Richards: 3 carries, 4 yards.
Team: 1 carries, (-4) yards.

Lincoln
Rodney Alcorn: 16 carries, 49 yards.
Dylan Burchfield: 3 carries, 12 yards.
Nick Harris: 11 carries, 0 yards

Passing
Woodford
Bryce Patterson – 16-30-1, 223 yards, 1 TD.
Receiving
Skyelar Johnson – 9-164 yards, TD; JD Alexander – 1-19; Coy Hayes – 1-16; Brasley Gill – 5-16; Cayden Walton – 1-8.

Lincoln
Nick Harris – 8-14-1, 157 yards, 2TDs.
Receiving
Zack Hazlett – 3-77 yards, TD; Troy Gowins – 4-68, TD; Levi Daugherty – 1-12.