Piedmont scored on three of its first four possessions and eventually defeated visiting Lincoln 42-7. The Golden Bears will enter next week’s opening round of the Class 4A playoffs 4-6 when they visit J.O. Johnson of Huntsville.
“I was hoping we would get out here and battle with them a little bit tougher. They’re a good football team. They came out and they got after us good,” Lincoln coach Brad Wallace said. “We’ve got to make some corrections and try to get ourselves more physical in these big-time ball games.”
Lincoln went three-and-out on the initial possession of the game. Piedmont kept the ball more than five minutes and drove 67 yards in 10 plays for a 7-0 lead. The Golden Bears‘ next possession ended on an interception and a long return put the ball at the Lincoln 14-yard line. Two plays later, Piedmont led 14-0.
The Bears punted again then the teams traded interceptions. Piedmont’s came at the Lincoln 22 and a first down touchdown pass made it 21-0.
Lincoln struggled to run the ball all night. Quarterback Chance Byrd led the ground attack. He netted 53 yards after sacks cost him 21 yards on the ground. No other Lincoln runner had as many as 25 yards.
“I think getting out and getting that early lead kind of forced them to be a little bit more one dimensional than they wanted to be,” said Piedmont coach Steve Smith. “We played a little bit more zone tonight than we normally play, had some safeties roaming free and were able to get some interceptions.”
“They were just playing good tough football in the trenches and we’ve got to come off and do the right things on our offensive line,” Wallace said. “We’re going to keep working in our practices next week and try to get ourselves better for this first round.”
Trailing 21-0, Lincoln took advantage of good field position to score before halftime. Piedmont was unable to pick up a first down on a fourth-and-inches and turned the ball over on downs at the Lincoln 45. Byrd found his passing rhythm with four completions in four attempts. A 20-yard throw to Hunter Webster got the Bears to the Piedmont 19. Webster finished with three receptions for 70 yards and was the only Lincoln player with more than one catch.
After a procedure penalty backed the ball up five yards, Byrd found tight end Dontavious Johnson on a fade route in the end zone. Nicholas Pope’s kick made it 21-7 with 1:32 left in the half.
The second half kickoff went to the Bulldogs and a 50-yard return set Piedmont up at the Lincoln 43. The Bulldogs needed just four plays, all on the ground, to score.
“I think us getting that great return and then being able to punch it in on offense kind of took a little bit of the momentum that they had attained before the half away,” Smith said.
Piedmont marched 93 yards and scored with eight seconds left in the third quarter. The Bulldogs final touchdown came when a short pass became a 65-yard touchdown play with 7:41 to play.
Byrd was 8-for-23 passing for 102 yards with four interceptions. His 45-yard completion was the longest play of the game for Lincoln. Byrd had runs of 25, 29 and 10 yards for three of Lincoln’s four ground plays that produced double-digit gains.
“It’s going to be a tough week. We’ve got to pick ourselves back up and get ready to play this next week. ... We’ve got a good football team. We’ve just got to put it all together, all eleven,” Wallace said.