Above, junior wide receiver Shane Faw looks for a running lane after hauling in a 27-yard reception against the Red Devils Friday night. Faw was joined by many underclassmen teammates to lead Lincolnton to a big upset win in the first round of the 2A State Playoffs.
Right, three-year starting quarterback Zack Gibson takes a moment to catch his breath in Red Springs. Gibson was 5-for-7 passing with no interceptions. He served as dual threat gaining 56 yards on nine carries with two touchdowns.
Joseph Brymer / LTN Photo
RED SPRINGS – Neither the 150 mile trip to Red Springs or the torrential downpours of rain could deny the Lincolnton Wolves from upsetting the Red Devils 28-6 Friday night in the first round of the 2A state playoffs.
Midway through the first quarter, the Wolves got on the board when quarterback Zack Gibson scored from one yard out. Gibson`s 30-yard run earlier in the drive had set up the Lincolnton score. George Ramirez added the point after, and the Wolves led 7-0.
Red Springs answered quickly. On their next possession, running back Chris Isaac broke through the line of scrimmage, then out ran would-be tacklers on his way to a 65-yard touchdown run. However, the extra point was blocked, and the Wolves held a 7-6 lead.
The play of the night came in the second quarter. Gibson took the snap and handed off to Dusty Friday.
Friday handed off to Demory Williams, who then pitched the ball back to Gibson. Gibson then heaved a long pass down field to a wide open Dustin Metts at about the 20-yard line. Metts hauled in the pass, and trotted into the end zone for another score. Ramirez tacked on the extra point for a 14-6 Lincolnton advantage.
The Wolves would add another score before the half. Sophomore running back Marcus Williams ran straight through the middle of the Red Devil defense for an eight-yard touchdown run. Ramirez again split the uprights on the extra point, and the Wolves enjoyed a 21-6 lead. Williams was seeing his first varsity action after being brought up from the jayvee team for the playoffs.
The playing field that was saturated in the first half by heavy rains prior to the game, got worse in the second half. Playing in either steady rain or occasional downpours, neither offense was as effective as in the previous half.
The Wolves did add one more score in the third quarter. Gibson scored his second rushing touchdown of the night, again from one yard out. The fourth extra point of the game for Ramirez gave the Wolves their final margin of victory.
The teams were pretty even in the rushing department. The Wolves (7-5) gained 187 yards on 41 carries, as three Lincolnton ball carriers had at least 50 yards. Gibson rushed for 56 yards on nine carries, while Dusty Friday carried the ball thirteen times for 53 yards. The young Williams was a spark plug on offense for Lincolnton, gaining 51 yards on eleven carries.
Red Springs(9-3) finished with 180 yards rushing on 43 attempts. Fullback Charles Campbell had 74 yards on sixteen carries, while Isaac finished with 82 yards on eleven carries for the Red Devils.
Gibson also completed five of seven pass attempts for 109 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. His favorite target on the night was Dustin Metts, who hauled in three catches for 74 yards and a score.
Lincolnton head coach Scott Cloninger was very pleased with his teams performance. When asked if this playoff win was a big surprise, Cloninger said, “We play in a great conference that prepares us for the playoffs.”
Cloninger praised his offensive unit saying, “If we can run the ball a little bit, it takes some pressure off of Zack (Gibson). We put Marcus Williams in at fullback and he had a big night.” Cloninger also gave credit to the solid play of the offensive line.
As for the defensive effort, Cloninger said “Our defense is pretty good. We took a line from (Concord High coach)E.Z. Smith, Pick it up or put it up, and that`s what we did,” Cloninger noted.
The defense was a huge reason that the Wolves will advance to round two of the state playoffs. Lincolnton will travel to East Rutherford this Friday night for a rematch of the November 5th conference finale, which the Cavaliers won 35-6. East Rutherford defeated Whiteville 28-0 Friday night in their first round game.
by David Keever