North Lincoln 42, Smoky Mountain 6
Smoky Mountain must have heard how tough the Knights' defense is on running teams--so they decided to pass. Unfortunately for them, he kept hitting the guys in the black shirts. Three early interceptions and a fumble recovery led to a 21-0 first quarter lead that swelled to 35-0 before the Mustangs finally scored and the only thing North Lincoln had to worry about the rest of the evening was whether they'd have to travel to Canton to play Pisgah next Friday or would be at home against East Lincoln.
The Knights kicked off to start the game, but their defense didn't take long to begin making it a long night for the team from the mountains. A fumble recovery gave North the ball at the Smoky Mountain 34-yard line and just over three minutes into the game, Jake Soorus scored the first Knights touchdown.
Jacob Cline intercepted four Smoky Mountain passes and North Lincoln forced six turnovers en route to the easy win. Soorus finished with 101 yards rushing, but it was the overwhelming defense that made the difference.
East Lincoln 13, Pisgah 10
East Lincoln needed a win over Newton-Conover in their final regular season game just to make the playoffs. They were a #16 seed facing the #1 seed in the west, Canton Pisgah; but this East Lincoln team has finally overcome a plethora of injuries and is much, much better than they were earlier in the season.
In a defensive struggle, Pisgah got the early lead with a field goal. The Mustangs led briefly in the second quarter after completing a 25-yard touchdown pass, but Pisgah scored quickly to lead 10-7 at the half.
That's the way it stayed until late in the game. Things weren't looking good for the Mustangs in the fourth period when Pisgah drove to the East Lincoln 20-yard line, but Trevor Filo intercepted a pass in the end zone. They drove to the Pisgah 27-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs with only a minute 35 left in the game.
That's when Pisgah made a big mistake. Facing a fourth and one at their own 31, the Bears called a timeout before going for it. The Mustangs stopped them, and took over with a minute 10 seconds left. With just 27 seconds left in the game, Justin Barnett tossed the game-winning TD pass to Paulie Menegay.
The extra point attempt by Ryan Shanklin was blocked this time, so Pisgah still had a chance to tie the score. They had called their last timeout while trying to stop the Mustangs, so they had very little chance--but they made it to midfield before time expired and East Lincoln pulled off the upset of the night.
Next week, the Mustangs, now 6-6 on the year, will get a rematch with North Lincoln, this time on the Knights' field. North beat East 24-16 in early October at David Clark Stadium. The Mustangs overcame a 21-0 halftime lead by North Lincoln in that game to make it close, but this isn't the same East Lincoln team that played that night. A different quarterback and the development of some other players makes them a much more formidable opponent--but then the Knights have improved, too.
If you're going next Friday, get there early. It will no doubt be a packed house.
Shelby 27, West Lincoln 8
West Lincoln was considered an underdog to the Shelby Golden Lions, and an early mistake seemed to indicate worse things to come. A bad kickoff gave Shelby the ball on their 38-yard line and on the first offensive play of the game, Isaiah Bess hit Kamarde Huskey for a score. West missed a field goal and Shelby made one to make it 10-0 after the first quarter. Another field goal by the Lions was followed in the second quarter by a 54-yard romp by Cannon Bridges. The two-point conversion made it 13-8 but Shelby scored again before halftime to lead 20-8.
The Rebels ran for 251 yards on the night but couldn't put the ball in the end zone. Shelby got a late defensive score on a pick 6 interception to make the final 27-8. Shelby will host Ashe County in the second round next Friday.
Bandys 28, Franklin 14
Bandys won its opening round game, but it wasn't as easy as many had thought it would be. The Panthers actually outplayed the Trojans in most of the first half but missed opportunities to score, and Bandys made many, many mistakes. The Trojans were penalized for 155 yards total in the game. Franklin put points on the board first and led 7-0; but after they kicked off, Bandys quarterback Lake Hojnacki ran 63 yards and Ben Joseph's extra point kick tied the game. It was 7-all at halftime; then came the expected Ethan Howard show.
The Trojans' star running back bulled his way through a pair of would-be tacklers and then ran the rest of the way to a 41-yard score.
Franklin tied the game at 14-all, but Howard carried the ball multiple times on the next drive, ending it with a 7-yard TD run. He ran for another 16-yard TD in the fourth period after Chase Clanton intercepted a Panthers pass to stop the visitors final effort at a comeback.
Hojnacki, who finished the night with 101 yards rushing, had put his team ahead in the third period with a 61-yard TD run.
The star of the night was, of course, Howard. He ran for three TDs and amassed a total of 211 yards rushing. His first run for a touchdown was enough to give him the all-time Trojans rushing record, eclipsing the mark previously held by Chris Spade.
Bandys put up 353 yards rushing on the night while holding Franklin to 89, but the Panthers did pass for 218 yards. The Trojans, however, intercepted four Franklin passes, the most important one being the one Clanton caught to stop a drive that could have tied the game.
Next week, Bandys with play at Gerry Butler Stadium again--this time against West Stokes. The 11-1 Wildcats beat Fred T. Foard Friday night 36-27. They built a big lead, then saw the Tigers come back to cut the margin to 29-27 in the fourth quarter before scoring again to close out the challenge.
Community School of Davidson 28, Cherryville 21
When the Ironmen played CSD during the regular season, it was a see-saw shootout that ended with the Spartans claiming a 42-26 win. Friday night was very similar in that Cherryville led most of the game only to lose at the end. On a 4th & 9 play, CSD completed a 35-yard touchdown pass to take its first lead of the night and a fumble by the Ironmen on their final possession closed out the season for CHS. Even so, it's the first winning season (7-5) for the Ironmen this century, so the 22 seniors who played their final game can be proud of that accomplishment.
East Rutherford 17, Maiden 10
The Blue Devils kept it close, but ended up losing to the Cavaliers. East Rutherford kicked an early field goal which Maiden later answered. Then the teams traded touchdowns before East Rutherford scored the winning one to end Maiden's season.
South Point 28, Mt. Pleasant 7
The Red Raiders turned a close game early into a romp in the end. They'll travel to Hibriten next Friday to play the undefeated Panthers who won their first round game by a 63-0 score.
Hunter Huss 45, Burns 6
The Bulldogs actually led 6-3 early in this game, but the Huskies were just too much for them. Huss, still undefeated, will have a rematch with Crest next Friday. when the two teams met in October (also in Gastonia), the Huskies won 14-0.
Crest 41, Stuart Cramer 14
In a rematch from a regular season win by the Chargers, the result was the same: a Crest victory. It was even easier this time. Next week, Crest plays at Hunter Huss.
Bessemer CIty 44, Highland Tech 8
The Yellow Jackets had no trouble with the Rams. They'll travel to East Surry next Friday.
Kings Mountain 34, West Rowan 0
You could call this one 'no contest.' The Mounties scored early and often. They'll play at Statesville next Friday. The Greyhounds escaped with a 7-6 victory over East Rowan Friday night.
Watauga 49, Ashbrook 0
The Pioneers stayed unbeaten with an easy win over the Green Wave.
West Stokes 36, Fred T. Foard 27
It was a typical Foard game, but this time it ended with a loss. After trailing by a lopsided score, the Tigers came back to make it 29-27 in the fourth quarter before giving up another TD to end their season. After starting 0-4, Foard finished the season with a 6-6 record.
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