Tigers running back Trey Bolton asserted his authority in the first quarter, bludgeoning the Golden Bears defense with power running to the tune of 17 carries for 82 yards and two touchdowns.
Golden Bears quarterback Chance Byrd struggled in the first half, going 2-7 for 8 yards and an interception to Tigers' defender Geoffrey Teague on the only first half drive that breached Cleburne County territory. He was sacked once by Tigers' defender Grant Corkren and he only mustered five yards on four carries running the read-option.
Bolton continued his onslaught on the ground, bleeding the clock in the third quarter, but Byrd bounced back for the Bears on the last drive of the third quarter, hitting wide receiver Zay Caldwell on back-to-back completions of 38 and 33 yards, the second resulting in Lincoln's first score of the game. A missed extra point left Lincoln trailing 14-6 heading into the final quarter.
It only took Bolton four plays to answer with his third rushing touchdown of the day, a 27-yard play giving the Tigers a 21-6 lead.
Byrd fired two incomplete passes before hitting Caldwell on an 80-yard bomb, but the score was negated by an illegal procedure call, one of nearly a dozen penalties that hampered Lincoln's earlier drives.
Byrd's arm and legs bailed the Bears out on the drive and five plays later, he connected with Caldwell again on a 35-yard touchdown. Byrd ran in the two-point conversion to bring the score to 21-14 with 8:21 left to play.
Cleburne County leaned on the legs of Bolton again, running him eight times on an 11-play drive featuring nothing but running plays.
The Golden Bears' defense stuffed Bolton on a fourth-and-six play with 1:49 remaining.
Bolton finished his night with 32 carries for 181 yards and three touchdowns.
Byrd fared better in the second half, going 6-10 for 175 yards and two touchdowns and 11 carries for 77 yards. His attempt to rally Lincoln on nine-play drive failed when his final pass landed in the hands of Tigers defender Isaiah Ware with 1 second left to play.
The loss drops Lincoln to 4-5 on the season.
"It's one of those ball games," Golden Bears' head coach Brad Wallace said. "We challenged them at halftime to come back out and get themselves back in the ballgame. I thought they came out and tried to fight back. They gave us plenty of effort in the second half.
“We've got to correct the first half. We came out in a lull. These kids are going to keep battling and we're going to keep working next week to get ourselves where we need to be fundamental-wise."
Cleburne County's record improves to 6-3.
"One of us was fighting to get into the playoffs, and (Lincoln) was fighting to improve their standing, fighting to move up in the pecking order as far as the playoffs," Tigers' head coach Michael Shortt said. "We've had a lot of injuries. We lost our quarterback, a fullback, a linebacker and we lost two more (players) this week. We started three freshmen tonight. I'm just so proud of our kids for not giving up."