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home : sports : e-sports April 12, 2021

4/4/2021 9:25:00 AM
Recap & Preview
photo: We know it's a blur, but so was Hunter Leonhardt as he outran East Lincoln defenders on his way to a 65-yard touchdown run that gave West Lincoln a 21-14 lead.  The Mustangs tied it up later, but the Rebels won in OT 27-21 to secure a spot in the state taken from sfcnetwork video with permission from Chris Ritchie
photo: We know it's a blur, but so was Hunter Leonhardt as he outran East Lincoln defenders on his way to a 65-yard touchdown run that gave West Lincoln a 21-14 lead.  The Mustangs tied it up later, but the Rebels won in OT 27-21 to secure a spot in the state playoffs.

photo taken from sfcnetwork video with permission from Chris Ritchie

Wayne Howard

West Lincoln 27, East Lincoln 21 (OT)
You could call Friday night's overtime win by West Lincoln the Hunter Leonhardt show. The Rebels senior accounted for 162 yards including rushing for 140 on 16 carries, among them a 65-yard TD run in the third period. He scored two touchdowns. On defense, he had nine solo tackles. But, of course, it wasn't a one-man show. Grayson Barkley ran for 66 yards and scored the other two Rebels TDs. But as usual, it was the West defense that owned the day.

The Rebels tackled East Lincoln runners for losses on eight occasions including a sack of QB Tyler Mizell by Lathon Sain. Sain also caused a fumble that was recovered by Samuel Duncan that ended East Lincoln's chances. Duncan was in on nine tackles, Mason Huitt on 10 including eight solos. East Lincoln's Mizell was rushed on every pass, but he still managed to complete 17 of his 27 throws for 139 yards and two of the Mustangs' three touchdowns, both on throws to Austin Smith. Paulie Menegay of East ran for 119 yards and the other Mustangs'score. Both RoRo Seraphin of West and Jaxon Sellers of East made three extra point kicks.

After Mizell's first TD pass to Smith with only a minute left in the first half gave East a 14-7 halftime lead, West tied the score on Leonhardt's first TD, a six-yard run that with the Seraphin kick made it 14-all. It stayed that way until just over three minutes left in regulation, when Lenohardt took a pitch-out and outran Mustangs defenders on a 65-yard TD gallop. Mizell's second TD pass to Smith came with only seconds remaining, and Sellers kick that knotted the score at 21-all pushed the game to OT.

In OT, East had the first chance.  Mizell fumbled and  Duncan recovered the fumble caused by Sain.  Then, on their third play of overtime, West scored the winning touchdown and won the cross-county rivalry. The two teams will no doubt play each other in future years, but while West and Lincolnton will be in a new 2A Catawba Valley Conference come Fall (with most of the other South Fork Conference teams: Maiden, Newton-Conover, Bandys plus Bunker Hill, West Caldwell & East Burke), the Mustangs will join North Lincoln in a new 3A league that will also include Fred T. Foard, St. Stephens, Hickory, Statesville, West Iredell & North Iredell.

[Thanks to a reader who helped us correct the preceding paragraph.  I bought access to the game on the sfcnetwork, but I now know, the On Demand is only good for 24 hours.  Computer problems and illness kept me from updating scores of games in progress as I usually do on Friday nights.  I watched the game later, but when I tried to go back and check my info, my access time had expired.]

North Lincoln 42, Lincolnton 12
In the other Friday night game involving Lincoln County teams, North Lincoln scored 35 points over the first three quarters before allowing Lincolnton two TDs in the fourth for a 42-12 win. Both teams finish their season on the road this week: Lincolnton at Maiden and North at Bandys.

Maiden 33, Newton-Conover 14
Maiden took the opening kickoff and marched 51 yards to paydirt. Amarion Craig had several runs in the opening drive, his five yard TD gave the Blue Devils a lead they would never relinquish. Carson Foard's EP kick made it 7-0 and the Red Devils hadn't yet had the ball. The two teams both turned the ball over on downs, then Newton-Conover got to the Maiden 10-yard line, but Dru McClough recovered an Allan Shade fumble and ended the drive. Starting from there, Maiden got back in scoring position with a long pass from Ethan Rhodes to Christopher Cullen plus a roughing the passer penalty and five minutes into the second period, Rhodes finished the 90-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown run. The Blue Devils went for two on the extra point try, but didn't make it, and they led 13-0 at halftime.

Newton-Conover started the second half receiving the kickoff and two minutes later, QB Justice Craig hit Quincey Spain for a 43-yard touchdown pass. The EP kick was blocked and it was 13-6. After Maiden received the kickoff and had to punt, McClough recovered yet another Red Devils fumble, this time at the Newton-Conover 27. On the next play, Amarion Craig ran for another TD, and Foard's kick gave Maiden a 20-6 lead.

Late in the third period, a pass from Justice Craig to Zane Redmond gave the Red Devils a first and goal at the Maiden 6-yard line, and Allan Shade scored with a minute left in the third on a two-yard run. This time, Newton-Conover went for two, and Craig passed to Ben Watson to make the score 20-14.

Early in the fourth, a long run by Amarion Craig and passes from Rhodes to Brennan James, Christopher Culliver and again to James got Maiden to the N-C 4-yard line. After Craig ran it to the one, Rhodes scored with eight minutes to go. A two-point pass try was intercepted and the score remained 26-14.

With just over two minutes left in the game, the Red Devils got to the Maiden 20, but then Aaron Lefevers finished it off with a pick-six interception and Foard's EP kick gave the Blue Devils their fifth win without a loss 33-14. Maiden had already clinched the South Fork Conference championship and will be in the NCHSAA 2A playoffs, but they have one more game to play in the regular season. They'll host the winless Lincolnton Wolves Friday night. They'll also play at home the following week in the first round of the playoffs.

Cherryville's game with Christ the King got moved up to Wednesday.  The Ironmen lost 20-10. They finish the season this week at home against Bessemer City.

East Gaston hadn't played a close game all season.  They had lost five by big margins.  It wasn't close last Thursday either, but this time, the Warriors were the winners, downing East Rutherford 54-13 in Mt. Holly.  They'll play at North Gaston this Friday.

North Gaston has also had a rough season.  COVID cancelled two of their games.  They lost their fifth to Ashbrook 33-20 on Thursday.  They'll hope to make up one of those missed games Monday afternoon (1 PM) at Forestview.  

South Point's season hasn't been as much of a disappointment as that of East and North Gaston, but it certainly hasn't been as good as most. The Raiders' 28-16 win over Shelby last week may, however, help them get to the playoffs. The loss kept Shelby from clinching a third consecutive Southwestern 2A title, but the Golden Lions can still wrap that up Thursday when they play at winless East Rutherford.

Burns, like Shelby, is 4-1, but their loss to their southern neighbors likely prevents them from winning a conference championship, which they could only do if East Rutherford were to pull off a huge upset and the Bulldogs beat R-S Central Friday. A Burns win will get them a spot in the playoffs. Should they lose, it would create a tie with the Hilltoppers and the winner of the South Point vs Chase game Friday night in Belmont.

The Game of the Year in Cleveland County happens Friday night in Kings Mtn.  Both the Mountaineers and Crest Chargers are unbeaten; and they'll play for the Big South 3A championship.  Regardless of the outcome, both will be in the playoffs next week, the winner as the conference champion and the loser as the runner-up.  


Christ the King 20, Cherryville 10

South Point 28, Shelby 16

Crest 37, Burns 14
East Gaston 54, East Rutherford 13
Ashbrook 33, North Gaston 20
East Burke 30, Fred T. Foard 14
Hunter Huss 47, Stuart Cramer 7
Kings Mtn. 39,  Forestview 7
Community School of Davidson 23, Mtn. Island Charter 6
Thomas Jefferson 48, Bessemer City 8
Alexander Central 48, Hickory 0
South Caldwell 44, St. Stephens 13

West Lincoln 27, East Lincoln 21 (OT)
North Lincoln 42, Lincolnton 12
Maiden 33, Newton-Conover 14


North Gaston at Forestview (Monday 1 PM)
Lincolnton at Maiden
North Lincoln at Bandys
Newton-Conover at East Lincoln
West Lincoln at Cherokee
Bessemer City at Cherryville
Mtn. Island Charter at Union Academy
Highland Tech at Christ the King
Shelby at East Rutherford (Thursday)
Burns at R-S Central
Chase at South Point
East Gaston at North Gaston
Forestview at Stuart Cramer
Crest at Kings Mtn.
Hunter Huss at Ashbrook
St. Stephens at Hickory
Fred T. Foard at West Iredell
Bunker Hill at West Caldwell

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