Opportunities squandered, thatâ€™s what should be North Lincolnâ€™s assessment of their game versus West Iredell Friday night.
The Knights, who led 7-6 at the half, were stopped twice inside the five-yard line, once by a fumble and once on downs en route to a misleading loss 35-7.
At first glance, the score appears to show the Warriors dominated, but when you take into account the 353 total yards the Knights accumulated, plus a late score by senior running back Chris McCormick that was not the case.
â€œWe were able to do exactly what we practiced all week,â€ North Lincoln head coach Matt Beam said.
â€œWe were outstanding from our five to their five, but when we got near the goal line bad things happened,â€ he added.
Among the miscues for the Knights were five fumbles and a dropped touchdown pass.
The mistakes offset a 213-yard rushing performance by senior tailback Brandon Mull, which is undoubtedly a school record.
â€œBrandon played as hard and as physical as any kid Iâ€™ve seen in awhile,â€ Beam said.
â€œBrandonâ€™s his own-worst critic. He knows he has to hang on to that rock,â€ speaking of Mullâ€™s problem holding onto the ball.
â€œIâ€™m not mad about it, Iâ€™m just disappointed for him.â€
West Iredell, frustrated by defensive coordinator Wes Beamâ€™s scheme, made halftime adjustments, relying heavily on the run opposed to the pass.
Going to the option attack, quarterback Dewain Clark gained 35 yards, Bobby Morrison chipped in with 31 yards and McCormick had 131 yards before scoring on a 97-yard run with just two minutes left versus the reserves.
â€œEffort-wise, it was just outstanding. West Iredell had so many athletes on the field we couldnâ€™t take everything (all their play-calling possibilities) from them,â€ Beam said.
Junior quarterback Trent Hopkins scored the Knightsâ€™ lone touchdown, on a four-yard keeper in the second quarter.
He was 9-for-28 passing, but was victimized by several dropped passes.
Devin Borders led North Lincoln in receiving with 57 yards on three catches. Kyle Baker contributed two for 36 in the loss.
North Lincoln finishes its non-conference schedule at 3-2 and will visit Lincoln County rival East Lincoln on Friday night in what should be a packed-house showdown.
by John Mark Brooks