While most folks believed Corbin to be the overwhelming favorite against the Lincoln County Patriots heading into Friday night’s matchup, Coach Tom Greer knew his team would be in for a dog fight, and that is exactly what they got.
This time last year, the Patriots made the trip to Corbin and many thought it would be another blowout victory for the Redhounds. Instead, Corbin had to make two goal line stands in order to come away with a narrow 14-8 win. They faced Lincoln County again in the first round of the playoffs and fared a bit better, winning 38-14.
With the district championship on the line, it was much of the same on Friday, with both teams playing neck-and-neck for two quarters. Greer said he knew his squad would be getting the best version of Lincoln County, who had not been 100-percent all season long.
“I talked to Coach Crutchfield and he told me they had seven players out with COVID earlier in the season. Then their best running back was out two weeks and just came back. This is a good football team who is just now back to being healthy,” said Greer. “We knew it would be a tough game. It was a great win for us.”
Corbin got off to a great start to open the game on Friday. After a fumble from Lincoln County on their opening drive, the Redhounds capitalized on a scoring drive that was capped off by a two-yard touchdown run from quarterback Cameron Combs. The extra point was good and the Redhounds went up 7-0 early.
After Lincoln County returned the favor with a 17-yard touchdown pass with under a minute to play in the first quarter, Corbin looked like they were going to take complete control of the game. On the ensuing drive, Combs connected with senior wide receiver Treyveon Longmire for a 70-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 14-7.
Combs went on to add his second touchdown run of the night later in the second quarter to put the Redhounds up 21-7 with just over five minutes before the half. With the opportunity for Corbin to put the Patriots away, Lincoln scored two quick touchdowns over the next four minutes of play - scoring on a 77-yard run and another 44-yard run, after a big interception.
With the score tied at 21-21 heading into halftime, Greer said the Corbin seniors took it upon themselves to rally the troops.
“I told them that we needed a tight game like this to see how they would respond - if they’d point fingers, who would step up. The seniors rallied our bunch and we went out in the second half and played better,” said Greer. “We made a minor adjustment to stop their run game. We felt like if we could force them to throw the ball, it would play into our hands.”
Taking the run away from the Patriots proved to be the game-changing move from the Redhounds, as the Corbin defense held Lincoln County scoreless in the third and fourth quarters.
Corbin’s offense, on the other hand, continued to impress. Combs tossed another touchdown pass to Longmire on their first possession of the second half to go up 28-21. After an interception from Zayne Hammack gave the Redhounds the ball back in Patriots’ territory, Seth Mills found the end zone for the first time on the night, extending the lead to 35-21.
Combs rounded out the scoring midway through the fourth quarter with his third rushing touchdown of the game, this time from seven yards out, helping his team cruise to the 42-21 win.
Greer said the difference in the second half was the play from the offensive and defensive lines, noting his team's ability to control the game from the ground late in the fourth quarter.
“The offensive line and defensive line just took over in the second half. Seth Huff ran the ball hard and got downhill. Our offense is potent and they made plays when we needed them,” said Greer. “I knew this would be a tough game. I’m proud of the way our boys responded and got the win.”
With the win, Corbin keeps their unbeaten streak alive and is now 8-0 on the year. The win also gave them the district championship, giving them the No. 1 seed in the playoffs in just three weeks. Corbin still has two more games left in the regular season. They’ll take on Wayne County at home next week, before traveling to Campbell County to close out the regular season two weeks from now.