East Lincoln was finally able to rid itself of turnover problems. The result was a 27-12 victory over Berry Academy Friday night.
The Mustangs did fumble twice, but lost neither of them. The result was having more offensive plays as they pounded the ball 49 rushes and threw the ball 16 times.
East Lincoln quarterback Grayson Schram scored on a one-yard sneak in the first quarter giving the visiting team a 6-0 lead. Schram then hooked up with emerging receiver Thomas Huntley for a 26-yard score. Huntley also had the conversion pushing the lead to 14-0 in the second quarter.
Running back Ryan Sykes ran it in from 17 yards out to give East Lincoln a 20-0 advantage. Brent Brown made the point after to give the visiting Mustangs a 21-0 led at the half.
With slightly over eight minutes in the third quarter, Schram connected with Huntley again on a 24-yard scoring strike, putting them up 27-0.
Berry Academy scored twice in the fourth quarter on long pass plays. The first touchdown was a catch and run by Brandon Cornelius that went for an 83-yard touchdown. The second TD as Dominique Young reeling in a 57-yard touchdown pass from Reggie Howard.
Sykes had a dominating rushing performance as he finished with 188 yards on 29 carries. It was his third game over the 100-yard mark this season.
Tavarus Freedom chipped in with 28 rushing yards, Schram had 26. The Mustangsâ€™ D was the real story limiting the Cardinals to 38 rushing yards and forcing 19 incomplete passes.
John Wilson, a senior linebacker, spearheaded the defensive effort according to East Lincolnâ€™s head coach Matt Rikard.
â€œHe had filled in at spots on defense, but because of a circumstance that arose prior to the game he had to step in and he played very, very well,â€ he said.
Huntley led East with four catches for 57 yards, Carlos Marquez had two catches for 29 yards.
Rikard felt his offensive line was pretty solid allowing rushing lanes for Sykes and time for Schram to get rid of the ball.
â€œTheyâ€™re (the offensive line) is doing better. We missed some blitz pick-ups, but Berry packed it in with a 5-3 defense and we were able to get outside of them and Ryan had a big game. he said.
Rikard also believes that Huntley and Schram getting on the same page has been very instrumental in the Mustangs being able to achieve a mixture of the run and the pass.
â€œâ€œHeâ€™s started to come into his own. Heâ€™s stepped it up during the conference play. A lot of Thomasâ€™ (play) is the development of Grayson and the offensive line giving them time to throw the ball.â€
The coach was not happy with the 83-yard play by the Cardinals.
â€œThe defense played very well. In the second half, we got a little lackadaisical. They got one big run and we had three guys around himâ€”I guess everybody thought the other guy was going to tackle them. It was a good athletic run but it should have never happened,â€ Rikard said.
â€œThree quarters out of the game, they (the defense) were great. But I think in the fourth quarter we lost a little bit of focus. We were playing some reserves but it was nothing major. A positive was there were no major penalties,â€ he added.
The Mustangs improve to 2-5 on the season with a 1-2 record in the Big South 3A. They will face North Gaston on Friday.
â€œEvery game is a must-win game. Not that North Gaston is any easier than any other game, but now we kind of have our backs up against the wall, still,â€ Rikard said.
by John Mark Brooks