LINCOLNTON â€” On a night that saw Makayla Zammarelli crowned homecoming queen at Lincolnton High, it was the Wolves who were king in a 49-0 trouncing of Highland Tech.
Senior fullback Dee Littlejohn rushed for 107 yards and three touchdowns on his first four carries, all in the first five minutes and 51 seconds of the game.
“We knew we could get Dee on the outside,” said victorious head coach Scott Cloninger.
“We wanted to get him the ball on the outside.”
Littlejohn put his team ahead on the first play of the game. The 6â€™1″, 218-pound running back took the ball for a 50-yard scoring run on the Wolvesâ€™ first snap. Braden Willis kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead just 16 seconds into the game.
Following a quick three-and-out for Highland Tech, Littlejohn struck again.
First, a 25-yard jaunt to the Ramsâ€™ 1-yard line. Then, following a penalty, a 6-yard burst into the end zone for a 14-0 advantage.
Less than three minutes later, Littlejohn added another touchdown, this time on a pitch from quarterback Patrick Rendleman around the right side, racing 26 yards to paydirt.
After the stingy Lincolnton defense got another quick stop, Rendleman returned a Neven Sussman punt 57 yards for another Wolves score and a 28-0 lead.
Before the first quarter could run out, Lincolnton added a fifth touchdown. On his only offensive touch of the night, Michael Cunningham took a pitch down the sideline 44 yards to the end zone, and the Wolves had built a commanding 35-0 advantage by the first quarterâ€™s end.
From that point on, the Lincolnton offense saw many substitutions and a plethora of ball carriers. Fifteen different Wolves carried the ball on Friday night.
Jaden Angle hauled in backup quarterback Austin Duncanâ€™s toss from 28 yards away late in the second period to send the Wolves in at the break with a 42-0 cushion.
The only score of the second half came from an unfamiliar source. Defensive stalwart Drake Henry scored on a 3-yard run midway through the third quarter. Henry, who is well-known for his defensive prowess, scored his first touchdown of the season.
Cloninger was especially pleased to see his senior linebacker get into the scoring column. “Drake is a quiet leader,” said Cloninger of Henry. “He leads by his actions on the field.”
The Wolves amassed 321 yards on the ground, led by Littlejohnâ€™s 119 yards and three scores on just five carries. Rendleman carried the ball only twice, for 48 yards total.
The Lincolnton defense again played outstanding, limiting the Rams to just 81 yards on 34 carries. “Defensively, we are playing very well,” said Cloninger. “Our defense is putting the offense in good position.”
With the win, the No. 1 Wolves (AP 2A poll) improve to 5-1 on the season, and more importantly, 2-0 in the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A conference. Highland Tech falls to 0-6 overall, and 0-2 in conference play.
Lincolnton faces county rival East Lincoln Friday at home, while the Rams travel to North Lincoln.
DAVID KEEVER, Special to Lincoln Times-News