FPD head coach Greg Moore told his players they can’t feel too high or too low after just one portion of a football game.
The Vikings sure did appear to be soaring after scoring two quick touchdowns against sixth-ranked Lincoln County on Friday in the GHSA Region 7-A opener for both teams.
Then came the lows.
Lincoln County scored 42 unanswered points during a run that started in the first quarter and ended in the third to cruise to a 49-27 win over FPD.
Mike McIntyre rushed for 216 yards and four touchdowns, and the Red Devils scored following three FPD turnovers. Lincoln County quarterback Ben Turner added 217 yards and two touchdowns through the air, with 190 of those yards coming in the first half. Turner didn’t have a ball hit the ground, going 14 of 15 with an interception.
“We played OK,” Moore said. “OK isn’t good enough against Lincoln County.”
During the bombardment of points, FPD (2-2, 0-1 Region 7-A) couldn’t find a way to keep the Red Devils (3-1, 1-0) off the field.
Lincoln County scored its first touchdown following a perfect 30-yard throwback screen pass on third-and-10.
“That would probably be one play you could point to that was a difference,” Lincoln County head coach Larry Campbell said. “It’s a long ride (from Lincolnton), and we haven’t played FPD before. They’re a good team, and they hit us quick. We started making some plays.”
After McIntyre punished the FPD defense, the Red Devils scored later in the first quarter on a 36-yard touchdown from Turner to Zireycus Letman on second-and-35. Letman ran wide open down the right side of the field to cancel out four penalties that backed the Red Devils well away from the goal line and give them a 21-14 lead with four minutes to play in the first half.
The Red Devils added one more touchdown -- a 1-yard McIntyre plunge -- before halftime following an interception.
“We did a good job of scoring points off the turnovers,” Campbell said.
FPD, however, had come back from two deficits earlier in the season. The Vikings fell behind George Walton by 31 before eventually losing 41-38, and they trailed Pace Academy by 10 points in the fourth quarter last week before pulling out a win. A similar comeback was snuffed out when Jamar Norman returned the second-half kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown and a 35-14 lead.
Moore called the special teams score a “backbreaker.”
“We warned our kids at the half about them coming back against George Walton we scolded our guys about not being flat,” Campbell said. “Running the kickoff all the back, that was huge.”
FPD had perhaps one final good chance to hang with the Red Devils, but the Vikings fumbled at the Lincoln County 3-yard line on their next drive. The Red Devils went 96 yards in four plays, finishing the drive on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Turner to Jalen Franklin. McIntyre had three carries for 54 yards on the drive.
“I told Coach Campbell that you probably can’t fit that kid’s heart underneath his shoulder pads,” Moore said. “He wore us down a little.”
FPD jumped out to a great start when quarterback Brooks Stroud reversed field and broke three tackles on the way to a 52-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Stroud finished with 106 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.
After an interception, the Vikings struck again when Stroud found a wide-open Joseph Lengel on a 34-yard touchdown pass. Stroud also tossed two touchdown passes.
While FPD lead 14-0, the Red Devils were just about to get started offensively, and their next possession was the first of six consecutive touchdown drives.