PUMPKIN CENTER –– North Lincoln took its first win of the season with a 41-28 rout of the Bessemer City Yellow Jackets on Friday that saw the Knights’ offense move the ball with ease in the first half to take a 28-7 lead at the break.
“It was a win, and we needed one,” second-year North Lincoln head coach David Maness said. “We played well early. Offensively, on our first five possessions, we moved the ball consistently. The running game was good and we made some passing plays when we needed to. Defensively, we were pretty solid early, but I think we broke down some fundamentals later in the game.”
Junior running back Richard Jackson led North Lincoln’s ground attack and piled up 65 yards on five carries and scored two of the Knights’ first-half touchdowns. The Knights (1-3) put the ball into the hands of 10 different running backs, and finished the game with 295 rushing yards on 39 carries.
Maness praised his offensive line for controlling the line of scrimmage and opening holes to allow the team to rush for nearly 300 yards.
“We took some real good steps forward on the offensive line,” he said. “Our offensive line, especially the first group, really dominated.”
Jackson scored from 4 yards out to stake the Knights to a 7-0 lead with 6:23 left in the first half. Four plays into Bessemer City’s next possession, North Lincoln junior defensive back Trey Freeman picked off a pass from Bessemer City quarterback Tyler Bess, and returned it 70 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown.
Jackson picked up his second score less than two minutes into the second quarter on a 10-yard run and, after the Knights forced the Jackets into a three-and-out, North Lincoln junior Matt Koe scored on a 6-yard run to give the Knights a 28-0 lead.
Bessemer City sophomore Josh Davis got the Jackets on the board with a 5-yard run with under a minute left before halftime.
North Lincoln fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half, setting Bessemer City (1-3) up on the Knights’ 5-yard line. Bess cut the Knights’ lead to 28-14 with a 5-yard run but North Lincoln responded with a 10-yard touchdown run by sophomore J-Mo Thompson on the next series.
North Lincoln senior Taylor Woodby scored the Knights’ final touchdown on a 10-yard run with 5:52 left in the third quarter.
The Yellow Jackets scored twice in the fourth quarter, primarily against North Lincoln’s defensive reserves.
“We started subbing pretty liberally, and, as games like that tend to do, when you substitute like that things can get a little sloppy,” Maness said. “That’s something we’ve got to work on. I thought the reserves would play a little bit better than they did, but everyone got the opportunity to play and get on film. That’s a positive thing.”
Davis scored on a 3-yard run and junior fullback Taquez Lane scored on a 21-yard run with just over a minute left in the game.
North Lincoln picked off Bess, who had no pass completions on six attempts, three times throughout the game. The Knights fumbled the ball four times, losing three.
The Knights open North Piedmont 3A/4A Conference play on Sept. 27 in Pumpkin Center against South Iredell (3-0), the defending 2AA state champions. Bessemer City hosts Highland Tech (0-3) in Southern Piedmont 1A Conference play.