LANCASTER - Lincoln County pulled out a win by the narrowest of margins Friday night, rallying from a 15-point first-half deficit to edge Garrard County 19-18 at Dyehouse Stadium.
“I knew this game was going to be like this, I knew it would be tough,” Lincoln coach Mike Settles said. “These kids played their tails off tonight and showed their heart and played so hard.”
Garrard coach Mark Scenters, whose team defeated Lincoln 35-25 last year, also expected a dogfight between the rivals.
“We expected it to be a battle, and it was for sure,” he said. “Both teams played extremely hard. You’ve got to give credit to both teams. The performance the kids put on the field was a good one. We came up a little bit short. We hurt ourselves a lot, but the bottom line is Lincoln made the plays they had to.”
Garrard, which out-offensed Lincoln 328 yards to 217, gained the upper hand on the Patriots in the second quarter, scoring three unanswered touchdowns to open an 18-3 lead with 2 minutes, 48 seconds left in the first half.
But Lincoln would come roaring back.
Running back Logan Martin slipped two tackles at the line of scrimmage, then ran untouched 85 yards to the end zone with 1:51 to go in the half to ignite the Patriots’ 16-0 comeback effort.
“That was a big play because they’d really been stuffing us. We knew it was going to be a tough night rushing the football,” said Settles. “He (Martin) actually got hit at the line of scrimmage then made a guy miss after that. Tremendous run.”
Lincoln (3-1), which booted a short kick after the Martin score to keep the ball away from Garrard, got the ball back to start the third quarter, and scored again.
Lincoln took possession at its own 48, and after first-down runs by Connor Patterson and Deonte Coulter, quarterback Justin Hubble capped off the seven-play drive with a 27-yard run to cut Garrard’s lead to 18-16. Lincoln went for the tie but failed on the two-point conversion attempt.
“We gave up that big play right before the half and I think that gave Lincoln a lot of momentum,” Scenters said. “Then they fielded the ball on the short kick, and that allowed them to continue momentum. And I think they did a good job of carrying that over into the second half.”
Lincoln’s kicker-punter Boone Baird ended up as the game’s scoring leader. The junior kicker impressed with the first points of the night on a 42-yard field goal in the first quarter, then followed with the extra-point kick on the Martin score. He capped off his night with the go-ahead field goal, converting a 36-yard attempt with 11:09 to play to put Lincoln up 19-18.
“Boone is a major reason why we won tonight,” Settles said. “Think about what he did tonight. I mean, his punts, he sticks them down inside the 20-yard line. He gets roughing the punter and crushes a punt. And him kicking field goals, a 42-yarder in high school football. He just looks so confident, and these officials can’t believe it’s going through the uprights.”
Baird just says he always stays ready.
“Coach (Jason) Todd came over to me when the game started to get close after the half and said, ‘The game might just come down to you, so be ready.’” Baird said. “He constantly tells me that right before every kick. So I always stay ready, stay loose, and stay warm.”
Baird even took some lumps for the team, taking a hit on a punt. Garrard was called for roughing the kicker on the play, giving Lincoln back the ball and setting up Baird’s final field goal.
“I’ll take that for the team because it helped us get the win,” Baird said.
Lincoln never relinquished its lead despite the efforts of the Garrard offense. Billy Abney, who completed 8 of 18 pass attempts for 167 yards and rushed for 41 yards, captained three extended drives late in the fourth quarter only to have the Lincoln defense keep the Lions at bay.
Noah Williams, who rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries for Garrard, helped the Golden Lions cross into Lincoln territory early in the fourth quarter, only to be stopped short of a first down at the Patriots’ 44 on fourth-and-2.
Garrard got the ball back midway through the fourth at its own 20 and was driving inside the Lincoln 30 when the Lions failed to convert again on fourth down. Abney connected with Williams for a 26-yard pass on the 11-play drive and Williams ran for two first downs.
Abney connected with Garrett Caudill for an 18-yard pass to get Garrard to the Lincoln 22 on the Lions’ final drive. But the Patriots’ defense denied Garrard the end zone, sacking Abney three times and regaining possession to run out the clock and preserve the win.
“He was back there running around for his life a lot,” Scenters said of Abney. “That’s a credit to the Lincoln County blitz. They did a good job. We’ve got to protect him better, because we’re going to see that a lot.”
Abney was leading an 18-0 charge to start the game for Garrard (2-2).
The senior quarterback hit Jacob Smith for a 46-yard pass late in the first to help move the Lions down field. McPherson capped the 80-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown to open the second quarter. The Lions scored again with 3:47 left in the period, with Williams pushing up the middle for his own 4-yard score. The drive covered 75 yards in 14 plays.
A Lincoln fumble set up Garrard’s final touchdown. The ball was knocked out of Martin’s hands and up into the air, and Garrard’s J.T. Lyons grabbed the free ball at the Lincoln 30. Three plays later, Abney hit Smith for a 26-yard touchdown pass.
“This was a rollercoaster of a game,” Settles said. “I’m just so proud of the way the kids responded because our backs were against the wall. Garrard is a good football team. They have a lot of experience. their quarterback is a four-year starter and they won a regional champonship last year, and its hard to beat teams like that.”
“But I like what we’re doing. We’re taking it one game at a time. Being 3-1 is pretty nice.”
Lincoln County 3 7 6 3 — 19
Garrard County 0 18 0 0 — 18
Lincoln — FG Boone Baird 42, 1:26.
Garrard — Jaylan McPherson 4 run (kick blocked), 11:54.
Garrard — Noah Williams 4 run (kick failed), 3:47.
Garrard — Jacob Smith 26 pass from Billy Abney (run failed), 2:48.
Lincoln — Logan Martin 85 run (Baird kick), 1:51.
Lincoln — Justin Hubble 27 run (run failed), 8:58.
Lincoln — FG Baird 36, 11:09.
First downs 8 17
Rushes-yards 37-178 45-161
Passing 39 167
Total Net Yards 217 328
Comp-Att-Int 4-9-0 8-18-0
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties-Yards 9-82 5-38
RUSHING—Lincoln, Logan Martin 15-98, Justin Hubble 8-47, Deonte Coulter 9-28, Connor Pattereson 5-5. Garrard, Noah Williams 20-68, Billy Abney 13-41, Jaylan McPherson 8-37, Garrett Caudill 3-14, Layne Cumby 1-1.
PASSING—Lincoln, Hubble 4-9-0-39. Garrard, Abney 8-18-0-167, Slade Crutchfield 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING—Lincoln, Trevor Gaines 2-23, Gerald Miller 1-12, Martin 1-4. Garrard, Jacob Smith 3-93, Cumby 2-27, Williams 1-26, Caudill 1-18, Mike Redmon 1-3.