Mistake-prone Lincoln loses 34-14

August 22, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

STANFORD - The dawning of a new day for Lincoln County football came one day late. And it may be some time longer before the sun shines brightly on the program again.

Lincoln's first game under Larry French was marked by the kinds of mistakes that reveal just how far this team still have to go.

Nine fumbles and numerous other errors of execution doomed the Patriots to a 34-14 loss to Harrison County Saturday in the storm-delayed second game of the Death Valley Bowl.

"It's going to take us some time," French said. "We've got to cut down on our mistakes and cut down on our turnovers."


The game was played about 19 hours later than originally scheduled after it was postponed Friday night due to persistent lightning in the area. The first game of the doubleheader between East Jessamine and Casey County was completed without interruption, but school officials called off the second game after waiting more than 90 minutes for a thunderstorm to pass.

On a sun-splashed Saturday afternoon, Lincoln gave up 27 first-half points and struggled to move the football until the fourth quarter.

Turnovers killed much of the momentum the Patriots tried to build in the first half. They gave the ball away four times in the first half and six times in all.

Five of their nine fumbles resulted in a change of possession, and the ball most often ended up on the ground because of problems with the snap from center to quarterback.

"They've got a big nose guard who caused every bit of that problem," French said. "He just kept knocking our center back into the quarterback."

There were other errors as well, all of which were aggravating but not surprising to French, who spent 15 years at Mercer County and 15 years at Meade County before coming to Lincoln in hopes of reviving a team that won only seven games over the last three seasons. His roster is long on underclassmen and short on experience, and he said he knew he would see some errors early in the season.

"With a young football team like we have, you're going to get some mistakes," French said. "A lot of these kids have not seen a football field except in reserve roles.

"We've got to learn from these mistakes and try to get them corrected and teach these kids a little football. If we can do that, and if people don't get down on them, I think we'll be ready to win some games when district time rolls around."

The day belonged to Harrison's Wilson

This day belonged to Harrison, however, and to senior running back Devon Wilson, who scored four of the Thorobreds' five touchdowns.

Wilson, who rushed for 121 yards and three touchdowns, missed both of Harrison's preseason games while healing a hamstring injury suffered during baseball season.

"We were real concerned whether we were going to get him back for the start of the season," Harrison coach Ray Graham said. "He did a great job tonight, obviously. He really makes a difference for us."

Wilson ran 54 yards for a score to give Harrison a 14-0 lead in the second quarter, but Lincoln cut that in half when Braxton Miller broke free for a 61-yard touchdown run less than a minute later. The Thorobreds needed only 66 seconds to answer, this time with a 32-yard run by Wilson.

Wilson's third score of the first half came in the final minute when he intercepted a wounded duck of a pass from Lincoln's Matt Blair and returned it 50 yards to give Harrison a 27-7 halftime lead. He scored on a 9-yard run in the third quarter to cap Harrison's scoring.

Lincoln had 84 offensive yards through three quarters, but 61 of those came on Miller's touchdown run. They added another 96 yards in the fourth period thanks largely to the passing of junior Jared Long, the last of three quarterbacks who played for the Patriots.

Freshman Levi Rogers and junior Matt Blair shared the snaps at quarterback in the first half, but Long played there for most of the second half. After completing only one of his first nine passes, Long completed six of his last 13 throws for 91 yards.

Long led a 17-play drive from the Lincoln 30-yard line to the Harrison 8, but that ended on a fumble. But after the Patriots got the ball back at the Harrison 35, he threw a short pass to Hagan Folger and Folger scrambled some 30 yards to the end zone.

"We're looking for a leader," French said. "I think all three (quarterbacks) have good characteristics. Jared gave us an opportunity to throw the football because of his size and his arm."

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