TIGER STADIUM, WASHINGTON -- Something new was added to The 378 War: shootout overtime.
After dominating the game for four quarters but failing to score, our Devils got their first taste of the "shootout" overtime method of deciding a game. In past overtime games, the teams would play a mini-game of two 5-minute halves; whomever scored the most won, or penetration was used to aware one point if the score remained tied.
The shootout overtime under the GHSA is similar to that used by colleges, except the starting point is the 15 yard line rather than the 25. Both teams get a try, and the try ends when the team scores or fails to make a first down (as per normal rules). If the game remains tied after each overtime, they do it again, with the order swapped. Most think going second is an advantage, since you know what you have to do to win or at least keep the game going.
The Devils went first in the first overtime, with DeVonte Wright scoring on a 6-yard run. Walker Smith's PAT kick was good for a 7-0 LC lead. But any happiness on the LC side quickly vanished when the Tigers struck on their first play, with a 15-yard TD pass to the left front corner of the endzone. The kick tied the game at 7-7 and forced the second overtime.
The Tigers went first this time, and tried their passing game again. For a moment it looked to be successful, as the big Tiger receiver caught the ball in the endzone. But Devil defender Jathan Mickens also had some share of possession, and wrestled the pigskin away from the much bigger Tiger before the two fell to the ground. The interception ended the W-W try.
Immediately after the interception, a Tiger removed his helmet while still on the field, resulting in an unsportmanship penalty that was assessed at the start of the Devils' try. Starting from the 8, the Devils were unable to move the ball much. Considering the 3 missed field goals earlier in the game, no one on the Devil side of the field was breathing as Walker Smith's kick saiiled through the uprights from 26 yards out for the winning points.
Lincoln County had dominated the first four quarters with 235 yards to about 35 for the Tigers. The Devils led in first downs 14-2. Of course none of that matters if you don't score. One field goal attempt was very low, and two others were blocked. A fourth scoring attempt within the 10 ended with an incomplete pass.
The Devil Defense was superb, keeping the Tigers hemmed in all night long.
This was not the first overtime game in this series. Lincoln County beat the Tigers 35-21 in overtime in Washington exactly 28 years earlier, on October 16, 1981. Before overtimes were used to settle ties, the Devils and Tigers evened out 6 times, the last being a scoreless tie in 1965. That 1965 game, also played in Washington, was the only other time neither team scored during regulation. The first tie was the very first game, a 7-7 final on Halloween in 1922 in Lincolnton.
The Devils now lead the series 34-32-6.