HAMLIN, W.Va. — Isaiah Smith would not be denied.
The Lincoln County junior running back carried the ball 28 times for 159 yards and two touchdowns and caught a third, guiding the Panthers to a 34-14 win over visiting Wayne Monday night.
“They had a back that we couldn’t tackle if he was in a phone booth and that made things difficult,” Wayne coach Tom Harmon said after the loss. “We’re a work in progress still and good players will make you look bad if they get the chance.”
Offense was hard to come by in the opening quarter, with much of the action happening on the Pioneers side of midfield, but Lincoln County (2-2) got things going early in the second quarter.
The Panthers took over on a short field after Chris Frye was flagged for a personal foul on the punt return. Lincoln County began at their own 49 and would convert two long third downs on the drive before quarterback Gabe Bates capped it off with a 1-yard sneak for the game’s first score.
Trailing 6-0, Wayne (1-3) made timely plays on the following drive. Facing 3rd-and-20 after a fumble and sack, Hayden Owens dumped off a pass to running back Ethan Bowens who gained 18 on the play. Owens then found Isaiah Lowe on fourth down to extend the drive and allow the Pioneers to enter the red zone for the first time Monday evening.
It was Wayne’s best chance at scoring in the first half, and after eating up around six minutes of clock, were set up well for the equalizing score. However, the drive was halted when the Pioneers couldn’t reach the line to gain on another fourth down, turning the ball over at the Lincoln County 5 yard-line on the eleventh play of the drive.
The Panthers took over in the second half, scoring touchdowns on their first four possessions after intermission, three of which came from the Panther’s Isaiah Smith.
Smith scored twice on rushing touchdowns and showed off his agility on a 45-yard screen pass that he took for a touchdown. On his way to the undone he broke two tackles and made another defender miss with a spin move halfway home.
“Man, that’s the only way I could get around anybody,” Smith said. “I had to make them miss. I didn’t see anything out there until I broke that first tackle and then I was gone. Nobody was going to catch me.”
Wayne’s two scores came on an 83-yard kick return for touchdown by Ethan Bowens with less than a minute left in the third quarter, which was his second such score of the season. Freshman Jaxson Damron scored the game’s final touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
The Pioneers, after playing their second game in four days, will host Chapmanville Friday night at Pioneer Field. Lincoln County visits Clay County Friday night.
WAYNE 0 0 6 8 — 14
LCHS 0 6 15 13 — 34
Bates 1 rush (conversion failed)
Smith 14 rush (Miller pass from Bates)
Shimp 5 rush (Turner kick good)
Bowens 90 return (run failed)
Smith 45 pass from Shimp (kick missed)
Smith 6 rush (kick good)
Damron 8 rush (Watts pass from Mathis)
RUSHING: (W) E. Bowens 13-54; H. Owens 8-17; P. Childs 1- minus 1; L. Wolfe 2-13; L. Gilkerson 7 — minus 5; J. Damron 2-30, TD; R. Murdock 1-5. (LC) I. Smith 28-159, 2 TD; G. Bates 8-26, TD; N. Shimp 7-60, TD; L. Adkins 1-13; A. Adkins 2-2; R. Clay 1-2.
PASSING: Hayden Owens 2-of-9, 31 yds. (LC) Gabe Bates 7-of-9, 88 yards; Nolan Shimp 2-of-3, 56 yards, TD.
RECEIVING: (W) E. Bowens 1-18; I. Lowe 1-13. (LC) I. Smith 3-83, TD; N. Shimp 2-26; W. Phillips 1-7; L. Adkins 2-26; C. Miller 1-3.