SMYRNA — Faced with fourth-and-3 from its own 43 early in the second half, Stewarts Creek elected to go for it. It would be a momentum boost if the Red Hawks got it, a golden opportunity for Lincoln County if they did not.
They did not.
It set off a 23-point second half for the Falcons that catapulted the Fayetteville school into the postseason and kept Stewarts Creek out after a 37-7 defeat.
“We were just trying to keep a drive alive and get some momentum going,” Red Hawks coach David Martin said. “We can pretty much say the whole game they lined up and came at us, and we did not respond as well as we needed to. They beat us at the line of scrimmage.”
The loss, combined with Shelbyville’s win over Franklin County on Friday night kept the Red Hawks out of the playoffs due to a tiebreaker.
Just as the drive had begun with a fumbled snap, Chris Dye suffered the same fate on the fourth-and-3 attempt.
When the Falcons took over, the Red Hawks bent to the 25 but did not break and seemed to have dodged a bullet when Logan Wheat’s 42-yard field goal attempt went wide left.
However, Jordan Rouse and Keyshawn Walker were called for roughing the kicker, giving Lincoln County a second chance. It took advantage four plays later when Wheat was good from 29 for a 17-7 lead.
“They kept it alive and got the field goal from it,” Martin said. “And from there it just kind of spiraled.”
The turnover-on-downs theme continued on two of the next three drives with a punt in between as the Red Hawks (6-4, 4-3 in Region 5-5A) combined for 36 yards on those three possessions.
Lincoln County (7-3, 4-3 in 5-5A) answered all three of the Red Hawk stallswith touchdowns as August Hill scored on a 36-yard run, quarterback Eli Eason had an 11-yard keeper, and Dillon Jean had a 14-yard run.
“It was really crucial that we executed,” Hill said. “We needed to keep the ball and take time off the clock. If you have the ball in your hands you can control the game.”
Stewarts Creek’s lone score came on an 11-play, 70-yard drive that was capped by Dye’s 10-yard pass to Cynterius Lyons on the only pass of the possession. The Red Hawks gained just 70 more yards before their final drive of the game — a 61-yard possession that ended with another turnover on downs.