The North Lincoln Knights won their second consecutive game beating Lake Norman 14-12 Friday night.
A 30-yard spectacular one-handed catch by Marcus Horton, coupled with solid running from freshman running back Jay Little, set up a first and goal in the gameâ€™s final four minutes.
Up 14-12, and clinging to the lead, the Knightsâ€™ defense stuffed Little three straight times knocking him back to the 11-yard line.
On fourth down the Wildcats attempted what would have been a game-winning field goal, but it was wide left.
â€œThey (the Knights defense) had a gutsy performance that typifies what we want them to do. Lake Norman fans thought it went in and then they signaled no good,â€ North Lincoln head coach Matt Beam said.
â€œI looked at dad (Wes) and said we dodged one there,â€ he added.
With the clock dwindling down, Beam, prepared for the worst.
â€œWe know that kid (Little) is an handful, so weâ€™re hoping we can stop them. You start looking at the clock and theyâ€™re eating the clock away,â€ Beam said. â€œIf they did score, we wanted a little bit of time for ourselves.â€
The Knights used 10 plays to march 65 yards on their first drive of the game. Sophomore tight end David Ward capped the march with an 11-yard touchdown catch from junior quarterback Trent Hopkins.
North Lincolnâ€™s second score of the night, in the third quarter, was set up by fullback Jarrett Robbins. Backed up on their own six-yard line, Robbins dashed 73 yards down Lake Normanâ€™s sideline before being tackled.
Seconds later on third and nine, Hopkins connected with Devin Borders for 13 yards down to the 10-yard line setting up Hopkinsâ€™ four-yard rushing touchdown.
Jay Wissman connected on his second conversion of the night giving the Knights a 14-12 lead entering the fourth.
Zach Connell hit Lafayette McClain for a 40-yard scoring strike in the second quarter. Little, who rushed for 118 yards on 25 carries, scored the Wildcats second touchdown of the night on a five-yard run.
Hopkins went 9-for-26, but had â€˜at least five passesâ€™ dropped according to Beam.
He finished with 101 yards passing.
Neither the coach or quarterback has lost faith despite their penchant for dropping passes.
â€œItâ€™s early. Itâ€™s a pretty good receiving group. Trent keeps boosting them up and encouraging them,â€ Beam said.
North improves to 2-1 on the season and will face Christ School in Asheville at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
While the Greenies are up next, Beam is relishing what his team has already accomplished.
â€œTheyâ€™re just working hard. We have a great group of kids. Weâ€™re not the most talented group in the world, but weâ€™re going out fighting. All we want to do is have a chance in the fourth quarter,â€ he said.
For the second consecutive game, North Lincolnâ€™s offensive line didnâ€™t allow a sack. Also for the second straight week, the Knights recorded interceptions in the secondary and freshman defensive end Zach Miller notched a sack.
Starting corners Josh McClain and Josh Wilkins each picked off passes. Out of the last five interceptions North has recorded, five different players are responsible.
Beam was also pleased with Kyle Wilkinson and Brandon Mull, who helped slow the running game from their Dog positions.
While those defenders caught Beamâ€™s eye, senior Pablo Arguelles received the most praise.
â€œHe played the best game Iâ€™ve ever seen Pablo play, coming up and filling those gaps from his free safety position.â€
by John Mark Brooks