Lincoln County High School’s football season came to and end Friday night with the Falcons falling to Clarksville Northeast, 21-13, in the first round of the TSSAA-5A State Playoffs.
LCHS wraps up their season with a 6-5 record, making their first playoff appearance since 2010.
Shelbyville, the only team to advance to the second round in District 8-AAA, defeated Tullahoma, 44-7. Gallatin defeated Lawrence County, 34-7. The Eagles will host Gallatin in the second round.
Friday night, Northeast brought probably the quickest team the Falcons had faced all season. Lincoln County kept it close, giving up just one score in the second half following a blocked punt at the Falcons’ 25 yard line, but LCHS didn’t make the plays they had to have for the win.
“These are a great bunch of guys,” Coach Don Thomas said of his Falcons. “The seniors are a great class and have laid the groundwork for success down the road with their dedication and work ethic. They are a credit to the community.
“I’m really proud of everyone’s effort Friday night,” Coach Thomas added. “We played a solid game – just not a great game. We played hard. We just didn’t make the plays when we had to. But, we battled to the bitter end – that’s what it was, a bitter end.
“We started seven sophomores Friday night, and we’ve got a good junior class coming up,” he continued. “That’s what these seniors have done – shown a great deal of character, made great strides, and I’m very proud of all of you.”
Friday night Northeast turned the ball over their opening possession with Jacob Lamb recovering a fumble at the 46-yard line. In a third and 1 situation, the Falcons were tagged offsides, but the Eagles roughed the punter on fourth down, keeping the drive alive. LCHS had fourth and three at the 20-yard line but failed to convert.
Northeast was first to put points on the board, taking over on downs and going 80 yards in 11 plays, taking it in from the 9-yard line. The kick was good, and with 1:29 in the first, LCHS trailed 7-0.
At the 9:30 mark in the second, the Eagles broke loose for their longest run of night from the 42-yard line for the score. The kick was good, and the Eagles were up 14-0.
Josh Whitaker gave the Falcons good field possession, taking the following kickoff back to Northeast’s 44-yard line. Eleven plays later, Brandon Gower carried it in from the four for the score. Logan Wheat’s kick was not good, and with 4:15 remaining in the half, LCHS trailed 14-6.
The Falcons took first possession in the third quarter starting at their own 40-yard line. But, on a third and 2 situation, a holding call put LCHS in a third and 12. Lincoln County attempted a punt, looking at a fourth and 9, but the punt was blocked, giving the Eagles field position at the Falcon 25-yard line.
Northeast scored with 8:21 on the clock, and the kick was good. Lincoln County trailed 21-6.
With 3:05 in the third, Whitaker again gave the Falcons good field position, returning a punt to the Eagles’ 32-yard line. Five plays later, Gower carried it in from the five, and Wheat’s kick was good. With 56 seconds remaining in the third, it was a 21-13 ball game.
Lincoln County’s defense kept the Eagles out of the end zone the final frame, but the offense didn’t find the goal line.
Northeast will travel to Hillsboro for the second round of playoff action Friday night.
The Falcons finished with eight first downs with 154 yards rushing and 5 yards passing. Keller Monks was 1 for 8 passing.
Ryan Golden and August Hill both had 17 carries for 70 yards each. Brandon Gower had 5 carries for 7 yards and 2 scores.
Jack Cooter had 1 catch for 5 yards.
Northeast finished with 16 first downs, 323 yards rushing and no passing yards.
Jack Cooter led with 13 tackles; Xavier Schlueter, 8; Ethan Warren and Jarrett Johnson, 7; Tyler Bennett, Kip Atchley and Robert Swart, 4; Josh Whitaker and Jacob Lamb, 3; Quamaine Humphrey, 2; and Ryan Hall had 1.
Lincoln County was penalized 8 times for 70 yards; Northeast was flagged 13 times for 120 yards.
Falcon seniors wrapping up their careers wearing the blue and red are Ethan Warren, Quamaine Humphrey, Tyler Bennett, Josh Whitaker, Jarrett Johnson, Ben Rambo, Jack Cooter, Clay Marsh, Ryan Golden, Wheeler McCulloch, Brandon Gower, Nick Gatlin, Hunter Adams, Jacob Campbell, Jacob Lamb, Tommy Sanders, Robert Swart and Drey Dollar.