Asked why his team had trouble scoring Friday night in a 7-0 Class A quarterfinal loss to Savannah Christian, Lincoln County coach Larry Campbell didn't hesitate.
"The same reason they couldn't score -- a great defense," Campbell said.
Savannah Christian scored the game's only touchdown mostly because its defense forced and recovered a second-quarter fumble 21 yards from the end zone. The seven points Lincoln County allowed were the fewest it has given up in a loss since a 3-0 defeat to Washington-Wilkes in 2006.
TOUGH UP FRONT: Lincoln County's offense moved the ball well until it got near the goal line.
The Red Devils often worked a passing attack that exposed openings in the middle of the field. DeVonte Wright had catches of 21, 12, 10, 6 and 9 yards. Campbell said it was difficult to run that kind of offense once his team got inside the 20.
When Lincoln County took over on the 1 after a blocked punt, its first-down quarterback sneak was stuffed. A false start penalty moved it back to the 6, and quarterback Franklin Sherman was thrown for a 3-yard loss. He completed a pass to Tavious McGahee in the flat on third down, and McGahee turned upfield and looked like he could score. But he was marked down at the 1. Lincoln County went to shotgun on fourth-and-goal, a sign of respect to its opponent's defensive front. Sherman's pass was intercepted.
"We're pretty good up front, and we put a lot of stock in our front four; we pushed them back and did what we had to do," Savannah Christian coach Donald Chumley said.
NEW BLOOD: None of the four teams remaining in the Class A playoffs advanced to the semifinals last year.
Class A is the only classification in the state where at least one team isn't making a return to the state semifinals.
Defending state champion Wesleyan, which knocked off Lincoln County last year in the semifinals, lost in an upset to Wilcox County on Friday night.
FIRST DEFICIT: Williston-Elko found itself on the wrong side of an 8-0 score early in South Carolina's Class A Division II state championship game.
Junior Dexter Staley said he was confident his team was going to bounce back -- it did for a 34-26 win to claim the state title -- but he had no way of knowing for sure.
The eight-point deficit marked the first time this season Williston-Elko (14-0) trailed.
"We talked before the game about how that could happen," Staley said. "We said, 'Any team might start out on the wrong side of things, but we have to remember good teams finish games.'"
Staley took care of the deficit with a 47-yard touchdown run on the second play of the third quarter to tie the game at 14. The Blue Devils never trailed again en route to their first state championship since 1980.
SURPRISING RESULTS: Westside-Macon and Thomas County Central, two teams that dominated the top two teams in Region 3-AAAA, lost Friday night.
Thomas County Central, blowout winners over Richmond Academy last week, lost 31-17 at home to Sandy Creek.
Westside, which stomped Lakeside 48-21, only scored one touchdown in a 23-7 loss to Rockdale County.
Staff writer Billy Byler contributed to this story.
Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Dexter Staley||Williston-Elko||136||Scott's Branch W, 34-26|
|Tamyn Garrick||Williston-Elko||136||Scott's Branch W, 34-26|
|Demetrius Facison||Williston-Elko||71||Scott's Branch W, 34-26|