“I am excited about the way the kids came out,” Lincoln’s first year head coach Brad Wallace said. ”I saw another gear that I haven’t seen in practice. We are going to keep working and we have to get in shape. That is our main problem that we have on offense and defense. I think we got a little winded in the second quarter, but we can fix that. The kids are coming together. They have a lot of heart right now. I am really enjoying the way that they are playing. We started out in our warm ups, it is phenomenal the way they came out and executed and do what they were supposed to do.”
The Tigers opened the game with a drive that took more than five minutes off the game clock. Talladega was forced to punt and Lincoln took over at their 5-yard line.
On the first play of the drive Talladega’s Ahmad Gooden sacked Lincoln’s Chance Byrd in the end zone for a safety to give the Tigers a 2-0 advantage.
Lincoln’s Shedrick Thomas gave the Golden Bears a short field as he forced Deondre Hall to fumble at the Talladega 29-yard line. On the ensuing play, Jamario Howard sprinted for a 24-yard gain down the Talladega 5-yard line. A holding penalty forced the Golden Bears back 10 yards. Howard capped off the drive on the next play as he bounced off defenders for a 15-yard touchdown. Mason McLean nailed the first of his six PATs in the first half.
After forcing Talladega to punt, Lincoln took over at the Tigers’ 39-yard line. Devonte Peeler only needed two carries to find the end zone. Peeler went 30 yards on the first play of the possession to set up first-and-goal from the 9-yard line. He scored on the next play to give the Golden Bears a 14-2 lead with :29 seconds left in the first quarter.
Talladega struggled to hold on to the football in the first half. Ken Wells completed a pass to Devin Morris but Zay Caldwell forced him to fumble. Jaylen Turner recovered the football at the Talladega 40 yard line. Lincoln didn’t waste any time capitalizing off the mistake. Byrd dumped off a short pass to JaMychol Baker, who did the rest as he sprinted down the right side line for the touchdown. The PAT by McLean was good to make it 21-2.
Byrd threw his second touchdown pass of the game on the Golden Bears next possession. He connected with Hunter Webster for a 21-yard touchdown to make it 28-2.
Lincoln defense continued to have their way. Caldwell intercepted Wells for a 44-yard touchdown to increase the lead to 35-2.
Caldwell picked off Wells for a second time to set up the Golden Bears last scoring drive of the half.
Byrd broke a couple of tackles, then rushed down the left sideline for a 32-yard touchdown to give Lincoln a 42-2 lead at half time.
Lincoln picked up where they off to start the second half.
Caldwell scampered for a 70-yard touchdown on a quarterback keeper on the first play of the third to increase their lead to 49-2.
Talladega’s Ahmad Gooden suffered an ankle injury early in the game and his status for the season opener is uncertain. First-year head coach Robert Herring said this was the type of game his team needed in order to see the things they must work on.
“We had a good drive and that is what we were planning to do, hold the ball,” Talladega Robert Herring said. “Then we got a fumble and after the fumble it seems like everything went downhill. We were snake-bit, we had interceptions, the ball bounced up and they picked it up. Don’t get me wrong: they (Lincoln) are a great team and they are going to go a long way in the playoffs. This is the type of test that we need to see where our guys were and to see how much harder we need to get working.”
Lincoln opens the season at Leeds Friday.
Talladega opens the season at home against TC Central next Friday.