Special to LTN
GASTONIA — After Lincolnton lost its fourth consecutive game Friday night, Wolves standout fullback/linebacker Darian Roseboro needed two shoulders to lean on as he limped off the field.
Wings Chavis Russell and Quinlyn Harris didn’t dress out because of injuries and another one, Demetris Anderson went down late in the first half and did not return. And then there’s starting left guard, Bradley Franklin, who’s sidelined with an injury and defensive lineman Drew Dawson, who’s also banged up.
But Lincolnton head coach Scott Cloninger wasn’t using the Wolves’ bumps and bruises as an excuse after their 49-7 loss to Class 3A Forestview. That, as they say, is just the facts.
“We’re just dealing with some adversity right now and we’ll be OK,” said Cloninger, whose team dropped to 1-4 after their third road loss in as many tries this season. “We’re going to conference play against Highland (Tech) and no disrespect to Highland, but I’ve told the guys that we’ve played Shelby, we’ve played South Point and we’ve played Forestview and all those teams are faster and bigger and stronger than us and we’re getting ready to go into conference play where I feel like we can compete.”
Without a slew of players Friday, the Wolves went toe to toe with the Jaguars (4-1) for the first half. Tanner Cantrell picked off Logan Bradley’s second pass of the night and returned it 37 yards to the Forestview 18. Four plays later, Roseboro bulled his way in from the 4 and the Wolves led, 7-0.
Forestview knotted the score on a Moe Neal 12-yard run and took the lead when Bradley connected with Mykelti Armstrong for a four-yard score — one of three scoring hookups between the two on the night.
But the Wolves kept pounding away, grinding out 117 yards on the ground in the first half with each of their final three possessions of the half ending on Forestview’s side of the 50. Twice Lincolnton was unable convert on fourth down and its final possession ended at halftime.
“I was very happy with the first half — 14-7 to this team, we’re happy,” Cloninger said.
But the third quarter was where things quickly fell apart.
The Wolves failed to make a first down on each of their four possessions after the break, gaining just 15 yards on 12 plays. At the same time, Forestview ran 14 plays and scored on each of its four third quarter possessions — three Bradley touchdown tosses and a Montavis Rogers touchdown run — to break open a tight game with 28 points and a 42-7 advantage.
“I told them what happened in the third quarter, that snowball started and it’s a tough thing,” Cloninger said. “Somebody’s got to step up and stop the snowball. Things happen and somebody steps up and makes a big play and stops that roll. We didn’t have anybody that could or did tonight.”
Cloninger did see positives. Junior Justice Whitesides stepped in at wing, found some holes and ran hard for a team-high 65 yards on 13 carries. Justice Charles added 40 yards and freshman quarterback Jordon Easter managed 46 yards.
“He came in at tailback and did a good job for us,” Cloninger said of Whitesides, one of the team’s starting defensive backs. “He’s got good quickness and he may be at fullback next week with Roseboro hurt.”
Lincolnton plays Highland Tech at home Friday with a chance to even its Southern Piedmont Conference record after falling to Lake Norman Charter earlier in the season.
“What I’m looking at is even more improvement,” Cloninger said. “Give me four quarters. We played two tonight. Let’s play four quarters. I told them two weeks ago that it will get better down the road and it will. We’re just beat up and young and that’s two things that’s not good: injured and young.”