2017-10-05 / Sports

Tigers take another big step; beat Lincoln Co. 22-14

BROCK JACKSON REACHES FOR A PASS AND SCORES THE TIGERS’ LAST TD OF THE GAME The Tigers beat Lincoln County in Tiger Stadium to break a four-year drought against the Red Devils. 
Photos by SPARKY NEWSOME BROCK JACKSON REACHES FOR A PASS AND SCORES THE TIGERS’ LAST TD OF THE GAME The Tigers beat Lincoln County in Tiger Stadium to break a four-year drought against the Red Devils. Photos by SPARKY NEWSOME The game was classic Washington Wilkes versus Lincoln County. Tensions and emotions were high, both teams needed the win to overcome previous losses and get region competition started right, the crowds on both sides were into it, and it wasn’t over until there were only three seconds left on the clock.

The Tigers came out in fine form and took the ball down the field to score on a Donovan Anthony to-Malik Hall pass good for 15 yards in less than three minutes. And since the W-W kicking game has been somewhat unreliable as of late, the PAT attempt saw the offensive line took its place on the far side of the field but left the center, the quarterback, and some incidentals at about midfield. Bewildered, most of the Red Devils followed the line to the far side, so Anthony took a quick snap and trotted into the end zone almost untouched. That made it 8-0 really quickly.

THIS DEVIL IS GOING NOWHERE AS THE W-W DEFENSE WRAPS HIM UP BEHIND THE LINE This Friday the Tigers will have to contain another bunch of Tigers in Greensboro. THIS DEVIL IS GOING NOWHERE AS THE W-W DEFENSE WRAPS HIM UP BEHIND THE LINE This Friday the Tigers will have to contain another bunch of Tigers in Greensboro. The back-and-forth kept both teams at bay for a while until Lincolnton struck on a 34-yard pass. They went for and made a two-pointer as well to tie the score at the end of the first quarter.

With penalties plaguing both the Tigers and Devils, it wasn’t until midway through the second quarter that the Tigers put together a scoring drive that ended with a pass to Deondre Lester. Anthony again added a two-pointer to round out the halftime score at 16-8.

When a W-W drive stalled in the third quarter, Anthony punted to the Devils’ star receiver/returner, who bobbled the ball allowing the Tigers to recover. Immediately, Brock Jackson claimed his first touchdown reception of the year (see photo this page) with a 17-yard catch on the Armory end of the home side of the field. But the two-point conversion failed. That would end the scoring for the Tigers.

With their situation at its best at 22-8, and their momentum mounting, the Tigers kicked off. But that Devil star receiver/returner, Midarious Roberts, had something to prove. He took the ball at the five yard-line and went all the way for a touchdown. (By the way, he finished third in the state in the 100m dash last year.)

“The most disappointing thing of the night was that kickoff return,” Tiger Head Coach Chad Alligood said. “We go up 22-8 and had all the momentum in the world, and we kicked the ball where we weren’t supposed to kick it, and we didn’t cover, and we let them right back in the game. That part was a little disheartening but to see our kids go out and keep playing after that was huge.”

That did it for Lincoln’s scoring and put the game at 22-14.

The only thing the fourth quarter yielded for either team was Lincoln County’s late, late nearly 90-yard drive that kept the suspense over the moon until Lester intercepted a pass in the end zone with only three seconds left in the game.

“It’s always good to win but we could have played a whole lot better. In a game like that, you take the ‘W’ regardless,” Alligood said. “Emotions are high, everybody’s playing above their head – I’ll take a win any way we can get it but we’ve got to get some things corrected. It’s still good to win, especially that game, without a shadow of a doubt.”

He also expressed some frustration with the number of penalties called against the Tigers and said, “on some big screen plays, the officials couldn’t quite tell me what the problem was. That’s a big part of our offense and the video tells a different story on what they threw the flags for.” One was a touchdown called back.

“I’m never one to make excuses but when we have six holding penalties to Lincoln County’s one, I get a little frustrated. But that’s no excuse. We’ve got to clean that up because we cannot play behind the sticks on offense. On the drives when we don’t get behind the sticks, we score. On the drives when we’re behind the sticks, we start scrambling.

“It’s good to win the game but we have still got to get some things straightened out for us to move forward,” he added.

One of those things to get straightened out is the player ejection which came out of a double unsportsmanlike conduct call when a Lincoln County pass was broken up in the end zone in the first quarter.

“Right after that incident happened, I called them all over and I let them have it, and I told them we do not play that way. You don’t act that way, we don’t play that way, and I’m not going to tolerate it,” Alligood said. “After that, both teams did a good job of settling down and just playing football – and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. It’s a good rivalry but just play between the whistles and go.

“Other than that one incident, I thought it was a clean ball game. Everybody played hard and both sides made plays. We were just lucky to make one more play than they made.”

But turning to how his team kept playing hard, the coach commented on the good, and on the progress the Tigers are still making, especially in a close, rivalry game that could go either way.

“You’ve got to win those types of games before you understand how to win. Even though we did not play our best, and it’s a rivalry, and we put ourselves in some bad situations, we still found a way to win,” he said. “That’s probably the most positive thing that I take from that game. We just kept playing and playing hard. It was the first time this year we found a way to win that type of game.”

It marks the next foot forward in the philosophy Alligood is trying to instill in his players in his first year as head coach.

“That is a huge step for our program. You have to figure out a way to win to learn how to win. And that was one of those games, especially being a rival game, that was going to go either way regardless of the teams’ records just because of the nature of the game,” he observed. “Also, because of some things we had to overcome in that game, winning it was huge for us to move forward.”

Still, the games statistics are eerily close in almost every category. But if you saw the game, you know that there were several call-backs, etc. Also, with the Tigers running a prevent defense late in the fourth quarter, Lincoln had that long drive that yielded nothing.

“The stats are a little misleading,” Alligood said. I though our defense played really, really well for most of the night. We gave up some yards but we kept them out of the end zone.”

Looking ahead to this week’s road game to Greene County, W-W is somewhat on guard because the other Tigers have won three games in a row (see graphic on this page) and are also 1-0 in the region, having beaten Warren County 48-0 last week. Alligood also doesn’t want his team to go flat after the euphoria of defeating its arch rival.

Greene County has three or four athletes who are really, really good, according to Alligood, and those three consecutive wins will be providing them with some confidence.

“We have to contain them and drive the ball on offense and not give up the big play,” he said. “We’ve got to control the game from the opening kickoff until the time the buzzer goes off.”

As far as the worry of going flat goes, Alligood said, “We can let the fans enjoy the win [over Lincoln] but we have to move on because we’ve got bigger fish to fry. That’s the way it needs to be.”

On a related note, the coach commented on how great the crowd was at Tiger Stadium last Friday. “They were into the ball game – loud – and that’s the way it needs to be,” he said “It makes the atmosphere so much better.

“I can’t say enough about this community and how their support for these kids has been unbelievable,” he continued. “I wish everybody in the community could ride the bus from [the school] to the stadium. The people in their yards waving, the cheering, the police escort, cars honking, and all – that’s what makes small town football so great. Everybody feels a part of it and everybody wants to be part of it.”

Game time in Greensboro is 7:30 p.m.

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