HUNTERSVILLE —The only two undefeated teams in the Southern Piedmont Conference battled to each keep their perfect season on Friday, and one clearly outplayed the other as the East Lincoln Mustangs and the Lake Norman Charter Knights went head to head. The Mustangs secured a 35-21 win over the Knights in senior quarterback Garrett Young’s first start since injuring his knee against Lincolnton.
Young threw for 148 yards on 10 completions and two touchdowns, and passed the 2,000-passing yards mark for the season.
East Lincoln came out strong, as freshman wide receiver Chaz Surratt put 13 points on the board before Lake Norman realized what happened. In the opening minutes, senior Knight Alex Scearce didn’t have much luck moving the ball toward ELHS’ territory or holding them off as he switched off between a wide receiver and linebacker throughout the night. Finally, Scearce caught a break as he completed a 17-yard return.
Junior Knight Michael Dorsainvil followed with a 16-yard gain, but it wasn’t enough to chip away at the visitor’s lead going into the second quarter.
As the game progressed, Scearce started finding ways to break through East Lincoln’s defense. Scearce pulled off the team’s first touchdown, close to three minutes into the second quarter.
A more energized LNC team emerged after the points, but East Lincoln’s defense and offense continued to hold off and bust through Lake Norman Charter.
The majority of the Knights’ field position improvements seemed to come from Mustangs’ penalties, which increased as the game progressed. LNC continued to struggle to complete passes, and later fumbled the ball five times and gave over possession to the Mustangs three times.
Closing out the first half, Scearce made a failed attempt to add six more points to the board with a touchdown, but the strongest East Lincoln defensive stance of the game kept the Mustangs ahead by 13 going into halftime.
Surratt owned the second half of the game, busting through LNC defense and scoring another touchdown.
A fake hand off play and a 24-yard pass reception by senior wide receiver Tyler Brock set Mustangs’ fan excitement to a new level, as cow bells and screams rattled the charter school’s bleachers.
Lake Norman had a safety in the opening minutes of the final half, which increased the Mustangs’ lead by two. The Knights seemed to give up as a team, though Scearce continued to battle toward the end zone and landed his team another touchdown, his second and last of the game.
Penalty after personal foul slowed the second half, as both teams saw minor injuries and struggled to get the best of the other. But with the rough play came significant yardage in passing.
A 27-yard reception by junior Knight Petey Fabian brought LNC to 15 below their opponents — the lowest lead gap in the half to that point. Another 32-yard gain to follow from LNC woke up the Mustangs who may have been getting too comfortable, letting the Knights gain a bit too much momentum for their comfort.
But in the end, East Lincoln kept their undefeated status and is the only team in the conference with it, as Lake Norman adds a loss to their record.