Lincoln County High School’s Falcons took a tough loss Friday night, falling at home to district-leading Columbia, 39-22.
Opportunities for the Blue and Red were there, but mistakes at critical times decided the team’s fate. The Falcons are in search of the ability to finish the game.
Heavy rains just before kickoff drastically changed playing conditions of the field. A lightning delay in the first quarter immediately after the Falcons recovered a fumble at the Lions’ 45 yard line sent both teams off the field for a 30-minute wait.
LCHS got off to the start they wanted, forcing the Lions to punt in their opening possession. After play resumed following the delay, the first quarter finished scoreless. But, Lincoln County finished a drive that started at their own 45-yard line. Matthew Beddingfield pushed it in from the one-foot mark on a fourth down situation for the score. Stephen Miller’s kick was good, and the Falcons were up 7-0 with 11:57 in the second.
The Lions answered in four plays their following possession starting from their own 38-yard line. With 10:22 on the clock, it was tied at 7-7.
It seemed it was going into the half knotted, but with 31 seconds on the clock, Columbia started at their own 48-yard line. It took the Lions three plays to regain the lead, up 13-7 at the intermission, failing on a two-point conversion.
A bright spot for Falcon fans came at the half as a large number of the 1982 state championship team, cheerleaders and managers were on hand to celebrate the 30th reunion. The team was to be introduced prior to the game and be honorary captains at the coin toss, but weather conditions moved their announcement to half time.
“It was good to see those guys and be a part of that team,” said Coach Don Thomas. “They were the first to bring a state championship to Lincoln County High School. I was happy with the number that returned. I appreciate those guys coming out to support the Falcons.
“Friday night was a hard-fought game,” Coach Thomas added, “but you can’t turn the ball over like we did. Both teams dropped the ball, but when Columbia did, it was an incomplete pass; when we did, it was a turnover. The field conditions were the same for both teams.
“We’ve got a lot of good kids, but there is a lot of inexperience on the field,” he continued. “We’ll head to the school to get ready for homecoming week against Coffee County. I want to keep stressing to the kids that Friday night football has to mean a little more to this team.”
Lincoln County got the ball the opening possession of the second half but fumbled on their first play, giving the Lions the ball at the 35-yard line. With 9:35 on the clock, Columbia scored but again failed on the PAT, up 19-7.
But, the Falcons stayed in the game. With 5:27, LCHS started at the Lions’ 47-yard line and went the distance in six plays. At the 3:36 mark, Beddingfield took it in from the four on a bootleg, and Miller’s kick with good. It was a 19-14 ball game.
Following the kickoff, the Falcons had the Lions in the hole at their own 11-yard line, but in one play Columbia took it down to the Lincoln County 42. Six plays later, the Lions scored and had the lead, 26-14.
With 7 seconds in the third, the Falcons fumbled for the third time in the quarter, giving the Lions field position at the 31-yard line. At the 10:44 mark in the fourth, Columbia scored and took the lead, 32-14.
Lincoln County started their following possession at their own 31 yard line. After Tradarius Christian took it to the Lions’ 45, Beddingfield connected with Josh Whitaker down to the 19. From the four, Beddingfield hit John Michael Pressley for the score. Zach Besherse carried in the two-point conversion on a fake extra point kick, and with 5:27, the Falcons trailed 32-22.
Lincoln County attempted an onside kick that gave Columbia the ball at the Falcons’ 41 yard line. The Lions salted the game away, scoring with 3:46 remaining and finishing with the win, 39-22.
The Falcons put up 248 yard of offense with 163 on the ground and 85 in the air.
Beddingfield was 5 of 7 for 50 yards and one touchdown. Backup Keller Monks of 3 for 5 for 35 yards and one interception.
Christian finished with 104 yards in 15 carries. Kevin Galloway had 11 rushes for 28 yards; Beddingfield was 11 for 23 and 1 score; Besherse had 5 carries for 8 yards.
Whitaker had 3 catches for 63 yards; Jacob Campbell, 2 for 25 yards; Pressley, 1 catch for 4 yards and a score.
The Falcons had 16 first downs to 18 for the Lions.
Defensively, LCHS gave up 210 yards on the ground and 181 in the air.
Jack Cooter led with 13 tackles; Matt McKinney, 7; Jarrett Johnson, 6; Josh Whitaker, Slade Swinford and T.J. Crabtree, 5; Tyler Bennett, 4; Robert McCants and Austin Mason, 2; Quamaine Humphrey, Chase Rogers and Zach Yarbrough had 1.
Currently, Columbia leads the district at 4-0. Franklin County and Tullahoma are 2-1; Lincoln County and Shelbyville, 1-2; and Lawrence County is 0-4.
For their next action, the Falcons host Coffee County Friday night celebrating homecoming. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.