DENVER — The East Lincoln Mustangs won what head coach Mike Byus called “a basketball game” 61-59 over the Hopewell Titans on Friday.
“We hit a few three-pointers,” he said. “I knew we were going to have to keep the pedal on the metal to keep up.”
The win marked two milestones for the Mustangs. Senior quarterback Garrett Young became East Lincoln’s all-time career leading passer with his 347-yard performance that brought his career total 3,738 passing yards, and Byus took the school record for most career wins by a head coach, with a 70-23 overall record in nine seasons.
“It’ll be a nice thing to look back on once I’m retired, but we’re focused on what we’re doing right now,” Byus said. “We’re not worried about me in any shape or form.”
Young connected with five different receivers on 18 of his 26 pass attempts for five touchdowns, without an interception. Senior Tyler Brock led the East Lincoln receivers with five receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Jesse Earnhardt followed a close second with seven receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns.
“Young will tell you that he’s here at a fortunate time, when we have four or five receivers that are pretty good,” Byus said. “We even have a couple of defensive backs who could play wide receiver if we needed them to.”
The Mustangs gained 430 total yards of offense, only four yards more than senior Hopewell quarterback Tijuan Sifford amassed passing. Sifford threw for 426 yards on 21 completions with four touchdowns. Sifford was picked off once — sophomore East Lincoln defensive back Damarius Valentine pulled in a deflected pass and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown with 5:08 left in the first quarter.
“I can’t complain about a whole lot offensively,” Byus said. “It’s good that we’re 2-0 and we have some things to work on. It keeps the kids interested in practice, but they know that we still have a few things to work on.”
The Mustangs held a 41-17 lead over Hopewell at halftime. Young connected with freshman wide receiver Chaz Surratt on a 15-yard pass that culminated with Surratt spinning out of a tackle to cross the goal line at the 8:06 mark. Hopewell scored on the following possession on a 27-yard pass from Sifford to junior Jonquez Williams.
The Mustangs took a 14-7 lead after Young threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Brock, and Valentine’s interception on the next Hopewell possession put the Mustangs up 21-7. Trent Henderson and Domonique Smith both scored rushing touchdowns and Young threw a touchdown pass to Earnhardt before the first half ended.
Williams returned the second-half kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown for Hopewell and a 41-23 East Lincoln lead. Two minutes later Young threw a 61-yard touchdown pass to Earnhardt to give the Mustangs a 49-23 lead, but two Hopewell touchdowns brought the score to 48-38 at the end of the third quarter.
Brock caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Young in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, but Hopewell responded with a 81-yard touchdown pass from Sifford to Dominique Heath. Scott McMichael scored from 4 yards out for the Mustangs’ final touchdown with 9:16 left in the game.
Hopewell scored twice more in the fourth quarter, but the Mustangs got the ball back with three minutes left in the game and were able to run out the clock.