BY DAN KIBLER
Special to the LTN
WINSTON-SALEM –– When things were really going poorly for Lincolnton’s football team on Friday night in a second-round game against Winston-Salem Carver in the NCHSAA state 2A playoffs, coach Scott Cloninger sicced his big, bad wolf on the Yellowjackets.
Cloninger put his 6-foot-4, 265-pound junior defensive tackle, Darian Roseboro, in the offensive backfield, and the biggest of Wolves led his team to a 28-27 victory in top-seeded Carver’s David Lash Stadium.
Ninth-seeded Lincolnton (9-4) will travel to No. 4 Reidsville (11-2), a 27-19 winner over Polk County, for a third round game later this week.
“We changed up and played a little power football,” Cloninger said. “We have gone to that set before, but we’ve never gone to it on our own 35-yard-line. But if we hadn’t gotten into something and started to run the clock, they were gonna beat the socks off us.”
Carver (11-2), which did little right in falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter, led 21-14 when Cloninger took his place at right halfback with 3:32 left in the third.
Roseboro carried 11 times for 45 yards in the last 12 minutes; four of his runs gave the Wolves first downs on a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drive, and he scored from 1 yard out to tie the game at 21 with 9:17 to play.
The Yellowjackets led 27-21 after Decarlo Cherry’s diving catch of a 39-yard touchdown pass from Jamal Williams with 5:48 to play, but the Wolves drove 65 yards in 13 plays to tie the game with 1:08 left. Then, Graham Willis split the uprights with his fourth PAT kick for the winning margin.
Graham’s squib kick after the touchdown deflected off at least two Carver players before the Wolves recovered at the Yellowjackets’ 20 and ran all but 11 seconds off the clock to advance to the third round for the seventh time in Cloninger’s 14 seasons.
“We just didn’t make plays,” Carver coach Germaine Crowell said. “We missed some opportunities on offense and defense, and they made some plays when they really needed them.
“They caught us off guard (at the start), but we responded and put together three drives. We just came up a little short.”
The game had Jekyll-Hyde moments for both teams.
Lincolnton blasted the Yellowjackets in the first quarter, outgaining them 167-5 and scoring on a pair of reverses by Quinlyn Harris of 12 and 44 yards. Carver righted the ship in the second quarter, holding Lincolnton to 8 yards while capping a 15-play, 60-yard drive with the first of Desean Binyard’s three touchdown runs.
Carver got two more scoring runs from Binyard and had allowed Lincolnton just 5 yards of offense before Roseboro entered the game late in the third quarter. From there on, the Wolves blew the Yellowjackets off the ball and scored after drives of 74 and 65 yards that took a total of 27 plays.
The Wolves wound up rushing 51 times for 248 yards, with Justice Charles gaining 100 yards on 14 carries. His biggest touch, however, was the 13-yard touchdown pass he caught from Jordon Easter that tied the game at 28-28.
“We threw it a few times, and that really helped,” Cloninger said. “We’re just so happy; we feel very fortunate to come out of here with a win over Carver Nation.”