Wildcats advance to state quarterfinals with win over Lincoln County

Published 1:27 pm Tuesday, November 21, 2023

ELLAVILLE – The Schley County High School Football Team (SCHS) took the next step in its goal to win a state championship when they defeated Lincoln County (LCH) 49-23 in the second round of the GHSA Class A Division 2 State Playoffs Friday night at Wildcat Stadium.

“Lincoln has a really good football program, a really good team,” SCHS Head Coach Darren Alford said. “Any time you can beat a traditional program the way we came out and did it tonight, you’re excited about your program. I really think our kids played hard throughout the game. They did a lot of the things that we asked them to do. We knew kinda what they (LCH) were going to do and they did what we thought they were going to do, so we had a lot of stuff that we could do offensively for that. Defensively, we were in the right place a lot of times, but we didn’t tackle as god as I wanted us to and we are going to work on some tackling in the upcoming week.”

Coach Alford also stated that there were some things on special teams that he didn’t like and that his club would be working on fixing the issues on special teams.

The Wildcats won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball to start the game. They slowly but methodically moved the ball into LCH territory by using their running attack and completing short passes. They eventually moved the ball down to the LCH 18-yard line before running back Sam Forehand ran the ball down to the five. Then Zayden Walker capped off the long and time-consuming drive with a rushing touchdown. The extra point by Miguel Yanez was good and the Wildcats led 7-0 with 3:41 left in the first quarter.

Schley County wide receiver JaLewis Solomon is seen here competing for the Wildcats against Lincoln County.
Photo by Shannon Blanchard

However, it didn’t take long for the Red Devils to answer, as Justin Simmons took the ensuing kickoff all the way back for a touchdown. The extra point was good and the score was tied at 7-7 with 3:29 left in the first quarter.

On the Wildcats’ next possession, they once again were able to move the ball into LCH territory. Then on second and one from the LCH nine, Kabreon Aldridge ran the ball right through the LCH defensive line and into the end zone for another SCHS touchdown. The extra point by Yanez was good and the Wildcats had a 14-7 lead with 11:54 left in the second quarter.

On the Red Devils’ next possession, they committed a false start and a delay of game penalty, which backed their offense up by 20 yards. Then Jack Clark and Zayden Walker shared in a sack of quarterback Mekhi Wade. This forced LCH to punt he ball on fourth down and the Wildcats had the ball with good field position. A few plays later, the Wildcats scored their third touchdown of the night when Walker scored from seven yards out. The Extra point by Yanez was good and the Wildcats led 21-7 with 9:22 left in the first half.

On the Red Devils’ next possession, they were able to move the ball into SCHS territory by using the running attack of running back Semaj Jenkins.

Schley County’s Kendall Sims is seen here competing for the Wildcats against Lincoln County.
Photo by Shannon Blanchard

The Red Devils would eventually score on the drive, as Jenkins punched it in with a rushing touchdown. The extra point was good and the Wildcats’ lead had been trimmed to 21-14.

However, it didn’t take long for SCHS to respond, as quarterback Jay Kanazawa found Carson Westbrook for an 80-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was good and the Wildcats’ lead was back up to double digits at 28-14.

The Red Devils were able to move the ball into SCHS territory once again on their next possession. However, the SCHS defense rose up and made a big play when Zayden Walker pressured the LCH quarterback and his pass was intercepted by Solomon. This gave the Wildcats another opportunity to put more points on the board before the half ended. Aided by a couple of penalties on the Red Devils, SCHS was able to move the ball down to the LCH 17-yard line. Then Kanazawa found Kendall Sims in the end zone for a touchdown. The extra point was good and the Wildcats went into halftime with a 35-14 lead.

The Red Devils were able to move the ball into SCHS territory on their next possession and Fortson Partridge was able to nail a 46-yard field goal as time expired to end the first half. At halftime, the Wildcats had a 35-17 lead.

The Red Devils got the ball to start the second half, but were unable to mount a drive, as the Wildcats stopped them on fourth down. However, SCHS could not get a drive going and were forced to punt. However, on second down, quarterback Mekhi Wade’s pass was intercepted by Kendall Sims of SCHS. This gave the Wildcats another opportunity to put more points on the board, which they did when Zayden Walker scored his third rushing touchdown of the night. This time, the Wildcats elected to try a two-point conversion. Kanazawa threw the ball to Sam Forehand to convert the two-point try and the Wildcats led 43-17 with 4:58 to go in the third quarter.

On the Red Devils’ next possession, they were done in by back-to-back false start penalties and the SCHS defense forced them to punt the ball away.

On the next SCHS possession, the Wildcats were able to move the ball deep inside LCH territory when Kanazawa threw a screen pass to Sims, who ran the ball down to the LCH 14-yard line. A few plays later, Jeremiah Rogers scored a rushing touchdown from a yard out. The Wildcats went for two and failed, but led 49-17 with a little less than 11 minutes left in the game.

On the Red Devils’ next possession, they were able to move the ball across midfield and into SCHS territory. A few Plays later, Wade completed a touchdown pass to Christian Crite. The two-point try failed, but the Wildcats had a comfortable 49-23 lead.

Near the end of the game, the Red Devils were able to mount another drive, but JaLewis Solomon came up with his second interception of the night. From that point on, all that was left to do was to run out the clock, as the Wildcats would go on to win by the score of 49-23.

The Wildcats (11-0) will host Early County in the state quarterfinals on Friday, November 24, at 7:30 p.m.