DENVER — Thomasville senior Gabe Brockett was averaging nearly 385 rushing yards and four touchdowns per game in the weeks leading up to the Bulldogs’ third-round trip to face the East Lincoln Mustangs on Friday.
The Mustangs limited him to 218 yards on 40 carries and no touchdowns on their way to a 28-12 victory and a fourth-round matchup with Madison County, and forced him to fumble the ball six times, losing four.
East Lincoln, with its 14th win in an undefeated season, was outgained by the Bulldogs 437-296 yards but took advantage of Thomasville’s seven turnovers and made several key stops on defense.
East Lincoln senior wide receiver Jesse Earnhardt set the Mustangs’ single-season receiving yardage record in the second quarter with a 41-yard reception from senior quarterback Garrett Young. Earnhardt’s six receptions for 107 yards in the game gave him 66 receptions for 1,247 yards and 13 touchdowns for the season.
Young finished the game with 13 completions for 247 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. That brings his season total to 197 completions for 3,483 yards and 43 touchdowns with four interceptions.
Senior running back Marquis Pharr led the East Lincoln ground attack with 17 carries for 65 yards. Freshman wide receiver Chaz Surratt’s three receptions for 52 yards during the game nudged him within 25 yards of the 1,000 receiving yards mark for the season.
Thomasville rarely utilized their passing game throughout the season, but quarterback Isaiah Marsh had 12 completions for 186 yards and two touchdowns against the Mustangs.
The game was scoreless through the first quarter after East Lincoln senior Clay Hodges blocked a Thomasville field goal attempt with less than 30 seconds left in the first quarter.
Surratt charged 1 yard for a touchdown with four minutes left in the first half, followed by a 15-yard touchdown pass from Young to senior Tyler Brock (4-88 yards) 15 seconds before halftime.
Thomasville got on the board less than two minutes into the second half with a 32-yard pass from Marsh to wide receiver Dezmond Wilson, with the extra point attempt blocked by Hodges.
The Mustangs responded with Brock’s second touchdown reception of the night on a 15-yard strike from Young.
Surratt picked off a pass by Marsh and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown and a 28-6 lead for the Mustangs with less than two minutes left in the game.
Marsh connected with Marvin Johnson on a 33-yard touchdown strike as time expired for the final margin.
Madison County (13-1, 6-1 WHC), the Mustangs’ upcoming opponent in the 2A West Regional Championship on Friday, defeated Shelby 28-21 in the third round. The winner of the game will face either South Columbus or Tarboro, the defending 2A state champion, for a state title at Wake Forest University on December 1.