COLUMBIA -- Shaky special teams prolonged an already lengthy contest Friday night, as Spring Hill passed on a potential gamewinning field goal in the initial overtime of its Region 6-5A matchup with visiting Lincoln County before the Falcons converted their only extra-point try of the game for a 21-20 double-OT victory.
T.D. Tucker, who assumed kicking duties during midweek preparations for the league clash, convinced coach Kevin Rose on the sideline to give him the chance to close out the contest after Hunter Hammons scored from two yards out to force the third deadlock of the night between two winless foes.
“We didn’t have a kicker after Wednesday -- disciplinary issues,” Rose said. “We had two guys practicing. But I came in expecting to go for two (points) every time. I told them, the only way I’d try an extra point or a field goal was if we were tied and going for the win.
“I was going for two that time, but (Spring Hill) called time out, and T.D. told me ‘I promise I’ll make it’. He hit it down the middle. If the kid has confidence in himself like that, I’ve got to trust h him.”
Tucker’s boot brought an end to a meeting that began 90 minutes later than scheduled, as lightning in the area forced both teams to the locker rooms during pregame warmups. Once the game did start, the two clubs battled through a scoreless first half that saw Lincoln County (1-4, 1-1) commit two turnovers and Spring Hill (0-4, 0-2) fail to take advantage of either.
“We started slowly,” Raiders coach Ben Martin said. “I don’t think the delay helped us.
“We’ve got to find a way to generate some offense, and get off the field on defense. We’ve got to do a better job -- as players, as coaches.”
A successful onside kick to open the second half led to an 8-0 lead for the visitors, as Hammons and Phoenix Beddingfield connected on a 23-yard pass play to cap a 44-yard, six-play drive. Spring Hill couldn’t get untracked when it had the ball, but linebacker Trower Davis picked off a pass by Lincoln County backup QB Jake Pendergrass and returned it 54 yards with Christian Fitzpatrick adding the tying two-point conversion on the final play of the third period.
Allen Alderson’s recovery of an errant snap on fourth-and-goal from the Raider 3-yard line set up the best Spring Hill drive of the night -- a nine-play, 76-yard march culminating in a 2-yard Blaise Martin pass to Fitzpatrick in the end zone with 2:54 remaining in regulation.
Martin’s two-point pass was incomplete, though, and Pendergrass got Lincoln County into the red zone with a 38-yard pass before Hammons got the visitors into the end zone with a 20-yard game-tying run.
“It was exciting being up. We hadn’t had that feeling much,” Davis said. “We had a few missed tackles here and there that led to us not doing what we wanted to do on defense.”
Avery Martin’s interception ended Lincoln County’s first overtime possession, but the Raiders gained seven yards on three running plays before Blaise Martin threw incomplete -- off Mason Lee’s hands -- on fourth down.
“We thought about the field goal, but (kicker) Holden Murphy’s been out with COVID for the past three weeks and (holder) Scott Carter is out with a concussion,” Martin said. “We just felt we were better keeping the offense on the field.”
On the first play of the second overtime, Kaiden Martin took a lateral and went the distance, before Hammons punched one in from a couple of yards out and Tucker added the winning boot.
“I feel like we’re a better team than our record indicates,” the coach said. “But at the same time, we’ve got to work harder and do a better job.
“We’re really young, but we’ve got to find a way to put it together.”
Lincoln Co. 21, Spring Hill 20 (2 OT)
L 0 0 8 6 0 7 -- 21
S 0 0 8 6 0 6 -- 20
L -- Phoenix Beddingfield 23 pass from Hunter Hammons (9:41), Hammons run
S -- Trower Davis 54 interception return (0:00), Christian Fitzpatrick run
S -- Fitzpatrick 2 pass from Blaise Martin (2:54), pass failed
L -- Hammons 20 run (1:58), run failed
S -- Kaiden Martin 10 run, run failed
L -- Hammons 2 run, T.D. Tucker kick
First downs 17 7
Rushes-yards 46-114 27-89
Passing yards 161 104
Comps-Atts-Ints 17-28-3 10-17-0
Penalties-yards 7-54 7-49
Fumbles-lost 2-2 1-1
Lincoln Co. -- Hunter Hammons 23-72, Ben Davis 20-38, Anthony Knight 2-4
Spring Hill -- Kaiden Martin 15-56, Blaise Martin 10-29, Ricola Alderson 1-8, Mason Lee 1-(-4)
Lincoln Co. -- Jake Pendergrass 4-7-2, 52, Hunter Hammons 13-20-1, 109
Spring Hill -- Blaise Martin 9-12-0, 88, Connor Swann 1-5-0, 16
Lincoln Co. -- Brady Wiseman 1-38, Ben Davis 1-2, Phoenix Beddingfield 8-71, Carson Jean 1-5, Kenny Squires 6-45
Spring Hill -- Ricola Alderson 2-7, Christian Fitzpatrick 2-6, Mason Lee 3-50, Luis Alderete 1-22, Kaiden Martin 2-19