HUNTERSVILLE — What started out as a high-scoring first half of Friday night’s football game turned into a defensive battle between the Lincolnton High Wolves and the Lake Norman Charter Knights. The night ended with a last-minute play by the Knights, giving them the win over the Wolves 30-28 in both teams’ Southern Piedmont Conference opener.
“In the first half, there were a lot of points scored,” Lincolnton (1-2, 0-1 SPC) head coach Scott Cloninger said after the game. “The second half was defensively much better, though it was an up-and-down scoring game.”
The Knights’ Alex Scearce set the tone early with a touchdown in the first minutes of play. The Wolves responded with a 30-yard rush that led to a touchdown by sophomore Darian Roseboro with five minutes left in the first quarter.
The back-and-forth continued throughout the opening minutes, as the Knights (3-0, 1-0 SPC) completed a 48-yard pass that led Scearce to the end zone for his, and the team’s, second touchdown of the night.
The rest of the first half was filled with touchdowns on both sides.
A 43-yard rush by Lake Norman Charter was voided after a holding penalty set the team back 7 yards, followed by another penalty that pushed them back even further to the 21-yard line. The Wolves seemed to have the Knights at a disadvantage on the field at that point; however, a direct snap to Scearce resulted in a 79-yard play.
As Lincolnton received possession, a pass was tipped and intercepted by senior Chris Williams with barely over a minute left in the second quarter.
The Knights drove down the field in the final seconds, falling short of the end zone at the goal line. A goal line stand by the Wolves had an official convinced that the Knights weren’t in touchdown territory. But a few minutes after Lincolnton High left the field, and after much crowd and coach confusion, the group was brought back out for one more play with eight seconds put on the clock.
After the game, Cloninger said that officials told him the re-do was because of confusion on a referee’s part as to which team was which, and that he needed to give Lake Norman Charter another chance. Cloninger also said he will be placing a formal complaint; that type of situation isn’t mentioned anywhere in the rule book, he noted.
The Knights scored during the re-play, and led the Wolves 27-22 at halftime.
The second half prove to be more defense-heavy, with no points put on the board in the third quarter. False starts, holding and encroachment penalties were frequent on both teams.
Wolves’ sophomore Darian Roseboro opened the last quarter with several rushes that put Lincolnton in good field position, boosting fan excitement, until an injury took him off the field briefly in the final quarter.
When he returned he continued his streak, adding to the Wolves’ 200-plus yards in rushes. He later scored the Wolves’ final touchdown of the night, after two fourth-down conversions that pushed Lincolnton ahead 28-27. A failed two-point conversion and Knights’ possession didn’t secure the win for Lincolnton like they and their fans had hoped.
A 54-yard received pass by Lake Norman Charter senior Jamon Cunningham, with broken Wolves’ coverage, put Lake Norman at the 10-yuard line with little time left on the scoreboard.
In the following minutes, senior Tripp Smith, of Lake Norman Charter, was injured and escorted off the field, removing his helmet. Wolves’ fans chattered in response to the injury saying it was fake and an attempt to stop the clock. Tripp responded to the crowd with a gesture that had the Lincolnton High crowd in an uproar. Smith returned to the field shortly after a pat on the back from a side-line coach.
A field goal pushed the Knights ahead with less than a minute left. A kick off was fumbled by the Wolves, and gave Lake Norman Charter possession and the win at the end of the night.
Though his team didn’t come away with a win Friday, Cloninger mentioned that his team has improved over the last few weeks.
“My starting quarterback is a freshman; my team is young,” Cloninger said. “We’ll continue to improve and get better.”