DENVER â€” The East Lincoln Mustangs marched their way to a commanding 47-7 win over county rivals the North Lincoln Knights on Friday.
Mustang senior running back Marcus McDowell had another standout night, gaining 237 of East Lincolnâ€™s 298 rushing yards on 15 carries, and accounting for five touchdowns.
McDowell passed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season on his fifth touchdown run and final rushing attempt of the game, a 59-yard dash on third-and-9, two minutes into the second half.
Junior quarterback Garrett Young added 128 yards on eight completions for the Mustangs, including two touchdown passes to senior receiver Antwaine McLean.
East Lincoln head coach Mike Byus praised both McDowell and McLean for their strength and speed, and their football knowledge.
“Theyâ€™re strong kids, theyâ€™re not little kids,” Byus said. “The two of them could play any position on the field.”
The Knights scored their lone points in the fourth quarter, after a fumble by East Lincolnâ€™s Marquis Pharr was recovered by Jacob Chase for North Lincoln, setting the Knights up on the Mustang 21-yard line. North Lincolnâ€™s David Spinner took the ball into the end zone three plays later on an 11-yard run.
The Knights were without starting quarterback Cory Blake due to a shoulder injury sustained during last weekâ€™s 43-14 loss to Cherryville. Zack Wallace took position behind center and finished with four passing yards on one reception by senior Matt Mullen.
Wallace was sacked three times by the Mustangs, twice by senior linebacker Charlie Goss and once by senior defensive lineman Malcolm Case. Wallace was visibly limping throughout most of the game following Gossâ€™ first sack on North Lincolnâ€™s third play from scrimmage.
The Knights did, however, produce a rushing attack with more success than theyâ€™ve had all season. Chris Solano led North Lincoln on the ground, gaining 34 yards on nine carries. Spinner accounted for 28 yards on six carries. The Knights finished with 71 rushing yards on 32 carries.
The Mustangs fumbled the ball four times in the fourth quarter, three of which the Knights recovered. North Lincoln fumbled three times, but was able to recover all three.
East Lincoln began its scoring onslaught midway through the first quarter on a 35-yard pass from Young to McLean. After an interception by junior defensive back Jacob Beaver on the first play of North Lincolnâ€™s next drive, McDowell ran 22 yards into the end zone for his first touchdown of the game.
Following a 35-yard punt return by McLean, McDowell scored again, seconds before the end of the first quarter, from 3-yards out. Two East Lincoln plays later McDowell struck once more, from North Lincolnâ€™s 28-yard line, breaking three Knight tacklers before finding the goal line.
Young logged his second touchdown pass of the game on East Lincolnâ€™s next series, finding McLean again from 38-yards out.
McDowell scored the final two touchdowns of the game, on a 54-yard run seconds before halftime, and a 59-yard run two minutes into the third quarter. He sat the remainder of the game.
East Lincoln head coach Mike Byus spoke of North Lincoln sympathetically after the game.
“Theyâ€™re beat up right now; they didnâ€™t have their quarterback and couldnâ€™t run their normal offense and that hurt them,” he said.
“You just tell your kids to get in those games and while theyâ€™re in there to play hard and then you get them out.”
East Lincoln travels to Lincolnton (5-1, 2-0) on Friday. North Lincoln hosts Highland Tech (0-5, 0-2) in the Knightsâ€™ homecoming game on Friday.
MICHAEL GEBELEIN, Sports Writer