Lincoln County High School’s Falcons took their second tough loss of the season Friday night falling in their home opener, 21-17, to Pope John Paul II.
The Knights came into the match-up at 2-0 with a 59-34 win over Stratford and defeating Wilson Central, 14-10, in their opener. The Falcons, now 0-2, went down in a battle on Week 0 to Giles County, 21-13.
It took the Falcons 12 minutes to get started. After the first quarter, the Lincoln County defense came to life and offensively the passing game dominated. But, without an established running game, the Knights’ defense had an advantage. LCHS finished with night with 28 yards on the ground.
“Our guys played hard giving it everything they had and I’m proud of their effort,” said Coach Don Thomas. “Again we made some big plays and made some mistakes. The guys are working hard and want to win. We’ve played two good ball teams in our opening games – each has gone down to the wire.
“Once we started rolling, we played three pretty good quarters of football,” he added. “We gave up just one touchdown in the second, third and fourth quarters combined – of course our offense kept them off the field most all of the second period. When we went for it on fourth down inside the one and didn’t make it, that was big. But, at that point in the ball game I was worried about how we’d move the ball and if a field goal would do us any good in the long run. We gave Eli (Eason) good protection but the running game wasn’t what we needed.
“We’ve got a big game coming up on the road Friday night,” he continued. “Franklin County is a district game and we need to pick up a win. They put up a lot of yardage on the ground against Lebanon; they run a Wing T using four running backs.”
Friday night Lincoln County won the toss and deferred until the second half, but the Knights put back-to-back scoring drives together in their opening possessions of the first quarter, the first on a 10-play, 71-yard drive ending with Quer’Deruis Hunter pushing it in from the two, and the second going 48 yards in 8 plays with Hunter scoring again, this time from the five. At the four-minute mark in the first quarter, LCHS was down 14-0.
But, the Falcons got their offense on track in the second period and their defense stiffened. Coming out of the first quarter, LCHS started a clock-eating drive at their own 20-yard line. After moving into the red zone, Eli Eason connected with Shelton Smith from the five for a score. Colton Wicks’ kick was good, and it was a 14-7 ball game with 5:24 remaining in the first half.
Lincoln County had an opportunity to knot the game late in the second quarter. After holding the Knights, LCHS took possession at the PJP 36-yard line. The Falcons moved to a first down at the five-yard line but from there real estate was tough to come by. On a fourth down situation inside the one, the Knights’ defense held, taking over on downs at their own three. The Falcons controlled the ball for 10 minutes in the period but trailed 14-7 going into the break.
LCHS was first to put points on the board in the second half. After starting the opening possession at the 20-yard line, the Falcon moved inside Knights’ territory. With 8:30 on the clock, Colton Wicks nailed a 45-yard field goal attempt, and Lincoln County trailed 14-10.
But, PJP answered the following possession. After starting at their own 20, the Knights went 80 yards in 11 plays for the score. Quer’Derius Hunter pushed it in from the three, and the PAT was good. With 4:51 in the third, the Falcons were down 21-10.
Lightning hit quick on Lincoln County’s next possession starting at their own 20 when Eli Eason connected with Cooper Shelton on the first play of the series with a slant route. Shelton broke a tackle and took it 80 yards to the house. Wicks’ PAT was good, and with 4:37 on the clock, the Knights were up 21-17.
The final frame remained scoreless but the Falcons threatened. After taking possession at their own 19, LCHS moved to the Knights’ 30-yard line. On a fourth and four situation, LCHS went for it but missed on a pass with a questionable no call on pass interference.
Lincoln County won three quarters, 17-7, but the 14-point first quarter deficit was more than they could overcome. At the buzzer, the Knights had the win 21-17.
The Falcons put up 317 yards offensively with 286 in the air and 28 on the ground. Eason completed 22 of 39 attempts.
Receiving, Cooper Shelton had 7 catches for 122 yards and a touchdown; Shelton Smith, 6 for 68 yards and a score; Ryan Hall, 4 for 48; Brandon Carter, 2 for 21; Cole Crabtree, 2 for 16; and Blayton Poole had one catch for 11 yards.
Cole Crabtree had 11 carries for 18 yards; Eli Eason, 4 for 9; and Luke Phillips, 2 for 1 yard.
Defensively, the Falcons gave up 334 yards, most coming in the first quarter. The Knights had 172 on the ground and 162 in the air. T.J. Crabtree and Chase Bowden finished with 7 tackles; Xavier Schlueter, Austin Bennett and Luke Fullerton, 6; Ryan Hall, 5; Tanner Gardner, 4; Jordan Grogan, 3; Shelton Smith, 2; Kip Atchley and Austin Colbert had 1.
Cooper Shelton punted three times for 85 yards.
Colton Wicks was 2 of 2 in PAT’s and hit on a 45-yard field goal.
For their next action, the Falcons open District 8-AAA action traveling to Franklin County Friday night with kickoff at 7 p.m. In week one, the Rebels defeated Lebanon, 47-33. Week 0, Franklin County went down to Chattanooga Central, 14-10.