Lincoln defeats Pulaski for first win
LINCOLN BACK Deon Shannon (31) gets no where on this third-quarter run as he is swarmed by Pulaski County defenders. The Maroons didn't give up any yardage to the Lincoln senior on the carry but, two plays later, Shannon broke for a 42-yard scoring run. (Photos by Nancy Leedy)
Excitement was already building before the first snap, with the dedication of the football field kicking off the night’s homecoming festivities. But nothing could match the jubilation that set in as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
“Wow! What a game. That was awesome,” said Lincoln coach Mike Settles. “Could you ask for a better night? It started off with the field dedication to Coach (Bill Ed) Leedy and then we top it off with a win. It’s just a special night.”
“What they’ve gone through the first half of the season, it’s been tough,” he said of his players. “But we kept telling them that we believed in them. And, gosh, I’m just proud of how they’ve responded after so much adversity.”
Fireworks filled the night sky every time the Patriots scored, and no one was creating more sparks than running back Deon Shannon. The LCHS senior used his fleet feet to generate 390 yards and score five touchdowns. Shannon ran 31 times for 218 yards, including scores of 7, 6 and 42 yards and picked up additional yardage on kickoff returns, scoring on runs of 87 and 85 yards.
“I always feel fast but tonight I got to show it more because the blocking was there and everything looked good,” Shannon said. “It felt great.”
Pulaski (1-4) got on the scoreboard before Shannon ever touched the ball, with Alec Wooldridge capping off a 67-yard, six-play drive with a 45-yard run to put the Maroons up 7-0.
The Maroon lead was whittled to one point just 15 seconds later when Shannon returned the ensuing kickoff 87 yards. The extra-point attempt was wide making it 7-6.
Lincoln (1-5) erased the deficit before the end of the period, though, with Shannon scoring from the 7 and Ryne Otto throwing to Cameron Honaker for the two-point conversion and a 14-7 lead.
But just like Lincoln, Pulaski responded quickly to the score. On the second play of the Maroon drive, Tyler Goins, who led the night’s rushing with 222 yards on 20 carries, scored the first of his four touchdowns to even the score at 14-all in the first.
And so it would go for most of the night. If one team scored, the opposing team would answer with their own touchdown.
The back-and-forth scoring brought back some memories for Settles of another Pulaski game years ago.
“I got to thinking about the time Pulaski was involved in a shootout game in the mid 2000’s against Waggener,” he said. “It was like 86-68 or something and I didn’t want it to get to that.”
Three touchdowns were scored in a span of 42 seconds in the second quarter. After being cut off on the right side, Shannon reversed directions across the field and took the ball in from the 6 with 10:53 on the clock. Pulaski quarterback Aaron Smith then scored on a 28-yard keeper to keep the Maroons within 21-20 but Shannon rebuilt Lincoln’s lead with his 85-yard kickoff return with 10:09 showing.
The score was deadlocked again after a 10-yard TD by Goins and the conversion run by Justin Cornett.
Lincoln quarterback Ryne Otto connected on 8 of 16 pass attempts for 113 yards but it was his feet that put the Patriots on top at the half. A 21-yard carry by Shannon placed the ball at the Pulaski 13 and Otto took it the rest of the way for a 35-28 Lincoln lead.
“We’re doing some good things offensively. I liked what I was seeing there,” said Settles. “But we’ve got to get better defensively. I don’t want to trade touchdowns with another team.”
Lincoln had the opportunity to put in back-to-back scores after T.J. Torres intercepted Smith. But the Pats, who moved the ball from their own 45 to the Pulaski 14 off a 14-yard run by Otto and Otto pass completions to Honaker, 26 yards, and Vinny Morris, 14 yards, ran out of time. Boone Baird attempted a field goal before the final seconds ran off but the kick was wide.
Lincoln would not relinquish its lead. Shannon scored his final touchdown two and a half minutes into the second half on a 42-yard run to extend the Patriot lead to 42-28.
Pulaski did threaten. Goins capped off a six-play drive with a 24-yard romp then the Maroons got the ball back off a Shannon fumble and Goins took the ball in again, this time from the 15, to pull within 42-41.
Shannon fumbled the next possession as Lincoln drove inside the Pulaski 10 and Sean Haste picked off Otto on the following drive. But Lincoln’s defense prevailed after both turnovers and Pulaski came away emptyhanded.
“We hurt ourselves three times in the second half with the two fumbles and an interception and we still come out victorious,” Settles said. “I’m just so proud of our kids. After what we’ve been through the last several years with Pulaski, it feels great. To be 1-0 in the district is great.”
The Maroons never reached the end zone again but Otto did, scoring from 2 yards out for the 49-41 final.
“Tonight, we just tried to come out and play the whole 48 minutes,” said Shannon. “We didn’t want to let anything get away from us. The defense stuck it out.”
“It feels good to win our first game. We needed to get it out of the way so we can get ready to win some more.”