By RYAN HERMAN
With the first game behind them, North Lincoln and West Lincoln learned they had a lot to work on heading into their county showdown in Pumpkin Center this week.
The teams will see just how far they’ve come later tonight.
The Rebels (1-0) and Knights (0-1) are both coming off games in which they made their fair share of mistakes, and hope they’ve rectified those miscues during practice this week.
West Lincoln fell behind by two scores to Valdese Draughn before rallying in the fourth quarter. North Lincoln followed the same script at Lincolnton, only mistakes in the kicking game, costly penalties and turnovers spoiled the Knights from rallying past the Wolves.
“Usually a game that involves rivals this time of the year, it’s the team that makes the fewest mistakes (that will win),” North Lincoln head coach David Maness said.
“Probably nine-tenths of the people in the stands (at Lincolnton) thought we faked it on purpose, but we had no intentions of doing that whatsoever. Hopefully we’ll rebound this week.”
What Maness was referring to, was with 9 seconds to play his team had a chance to tie after scoring a late touchdown. But the snap on the PAT was wide, which forced holder and quarterback Chase Caldwell –– who orchestrated the late scoring drive –– to scramble right.
His pass attempt was broken up by the Wolves’ defense, giving them a 28-27 victory.
“It’s old John Wayne, really: ‘Close but no cigar,’” Maness said.
The fact North Lincoln, which had won just seven total games the previous three seasons, had a chance to force overtime against a team like Lincolnton showed West Lincoln coach Tom Sain how good both programs are this season, he said.
“They’re a real impressive team. They’re big. Not only are they big, but they’re big and physical and they play hard,” Sain said of the Knights.
“It’s going to be a game where we’ve got to play well and we can’t make mistakes. Their offense is ball control, so we’ve got to do a good job on defense.”
Against Draughn, the Rebels’ defense gave up three rushing scores in the first half to fall behind 21-7 at the break before coming from behind for the 28-21 win.
That’s something Sain knows his team can’t allow tonight if it wants to have a shot at winning.
“The players came out and responded after halftime. … We can’t afford to do that this Friday night,” he said. “We can’t afford to not play well in the first half. We’ve got to play a whole game.”
Like West Lincoln, which came out on the winning side of things last week, North Lincoln played itself into a 21-7 hole. Although it fell short, its determination was not lost on Maness.
“That impressed me more than anything else –– we got down and we didn’t quit,” the second-year coach said.
“We did some good things. We did some things well enough to have an opportunity.”
The teams are meeting after the Knights handled the Rebels 36-12 last season.
The teams are tied with four wins apiece in the short series.
“We’ve watched last year’s film, and we want to make sure we don’t forget about that,” Sain said. “They’ve got a lot of formations to prepare for, and they run their offense well. That’s a good offense. … “They’re capable of doing anything. They’re capable of throwing or running.””
“The game was a lot closer (last year) than the score might indicate,” Maness said. “It was a good game, and we’re looking for the same thing.”
SOUTH POINT at LINCOLNTON
The Wolves and Red Raiders enter tonight’s matchup with South Point holding a huge lead in the all-time series. The Red Raiders, who dismantled Crest 35-16 last week, have won 22 of the 30 meetings between the two schools, including five of the last six.
Lincolnton (1-0) is coming off a by-the-skin-of-its-teeth win against North Lincoln, in which a bad snap on the potential tying PAT with 9 seconds left turned into a big defensive stand for the Wolves on the forced conversion attempt. Lincolnton’s Jordon Easter ran for 98 yards, unofficially, and two TDs, and added another passing TD in the 28-27 win.
The Red Raiders (1-0), who led 28-3 at the half last week, had 418 yards of total offense and were led by Jaquan Brooks, who ran for 153 yards and a pair of scores.
The Wolves last defeated South Point, 43-42, in 2010.
Q FOUNDATION at EAST LINCOLN
The Mustangs enter Week 2 after a monster game last week from quarterback Chazz Surratt, in which the sophomore ran for four touchdowns and threw for another in a 37-22 win at East Gaston. Playing on their home field for the first time since winning the NCHSAA state 2A championship last December, they host a team that has very little information out about it — but East Lincoln (1-0) has played it before.
The Fighting Falcons out of Charlotte aren’t part of the NCHSAA or the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association. On Q Foundation’s website, it says it won the Division 2A Carolina Independent Athletic Association state title in 2009. According to Maxpreps.com, Q Foundation went 1-6 last year, was held scoreless in four of its six losses and gave up at least 41 points in each loss. In 2011 it went 2-7 and in 2010 it went 1-8.
Q Foundation, which makes its season debut tonight, has played teams in the past such as South Point, Kings Mountain, Murphy, Burns, East Lincoln, Wilmington Hoggard, Crest, Asheville and Robbinsville. The Mustangs are 2-0 against the Fighting Falcons and have outscored them 61-8 in a pair of games held in 2009 and 2010.