CHERRYVILLE — Cherryville quarterback Darius Harris set the tone early in the Ironmen’s Southern Piedmont 1A/2A Conference opener against the North Lincoln Knights, running for a 51-yard touchdown in the first minutes of play on the way to a 27-17 win for Cherryville, but North Lincoln David Maness was still proud of his team’s progress over the last few weeks.
“I thought this was the first time we came close to playing hard for all four quarters,” Maness said. “We didn’t get it done this time, but we just have to continue to improve.”
The first quarter didn’t reflect any big plays from the Knights, but a diving-catch touchdown by Jeremy Brotherton tied up the game with just over five minutes left in the first half. The Knights held off the Ironmen until the halftime break.
Sophomore North Lincoln running back Richard Jackson dodged tackles and moved the ball down the field in the second quarter, adding to his team’s 315 offensive yards. The final plays of the second quarter made it clear that the Knights weren’t giving up just yet.
An offensive stand by North Lincoln held the Ironmen as they stood 1 yard away from the end zone and almost doubled their lead over the Knights.
A late hit out of bounds brought the Knights to first and goal at the 21-yard line. But a sack, and an incomplete pass to Brotherton made a lead for North Lincoln doubtful. Cherryville’s Rhyer Davis brought down North Lincoln receiver Taylor Woodby, bringing a fourth down and forcing the Knights kick a field goal for a 10-7 lead.
Cherryville tried to respond with a scramble play and a completed pass, adding to the team’s overall 350 yards, but came up short and remained behind going into the second half.
The final quarters showed a different side of the Knights, as the Ironmen started to chip away at the three-point lead of their competitors. Senior Cherryville defensive lineman Logan Willis recovered a North Lincoln fumble that almost led to a touchdown by senior defensive back Spencer Stamey, until an offensive holding call halted the drive. Just a few minutes later Stamey answered with a touchdown that kept Cherryville in the lead the rest of the game.
Harris brought the Ironmen ahead with two touchdowns in the final half that the Knights couldn’t quite catch back up with.
North Lincoln quarterback Devon Cox scored a touchdown in the final quarter, but an interception by Cherryville kept North Lincoln behind in closing minutes.