Rebels top Draughn
VALDESE –– West Lincoln began its season opener with the Rebels chasing their opponent, but ended it with their opponent chasing them.
Charles Mack George rushed for 188 yards and a touchdown, and Daniel Schesny added three scores as West Lincoln overcame a fumble returned for a TD on its opening drive to knock off Valdese Draughn, 34-21, on Friday in the season opener for both teams.
The Rebels (1-0) had the ball inside the Wildcats 10, and coughed it up at the 12 where Mikeal Turner recovered and went 88 yards the other way for an early 7-0 lead.
West Lincoln never trailed again.
“I think we responded to that. That gave Draughn a momentum boost, but I was proud of the way our players played,” Rebels coach Tom Sain said. “They didn’t get down and played through it.”
West Lincoln answered with Schesny’s first of three scores, a 1-yard run to tie it, then returned the favor by turning a Draughn interception into points for a 14-7 lead.
Hunter Turner picked off Coy Lambert’s pass at his own 20 and went 80 yards. The score was the first of three TDs of at least 55 yards for the Rebels, who won their season opener for the third straight year.
“I was proud of the way we came out on offense and defense,” Sain said. “The players played well.”
A 5-yard TD run by Draughn’s Kevin White tied it temporarily at 14, but the tie was broken on Schesny’s 12-yard TD run late in the half.
Junior quarterback Noah Marsh, making his first varsity start, found Schesny for an 80-yard TD strike to start the third quarter.
George capped the scoring with a 55-yard run in the fourth. The senior fullback added 13 tackles and a sack at linebacker.
“We had a lot of people playing well. The coaches put them in the right positions, and we went out and played well against a really good team,” Sain said. “That was a good win against a really good team.”
After losing more than 70 percent of a rushing attack that totaled more than 3,500 rushing yards a season ago, West Lincoln on Friday rushed for 332 yards on 37 carries –– nearly 9 yards per carry –– and even added 92 yards passing from Marsh.
The 424 total yards were its most since gaining 485 total yards in a 49-19 win over West Caldwell on Oct. 18 of last year.
Schesny, a senior, had 73 rushing yards on eight carries and the one reception for 80 yards. Marsh added 64 rushing yards on nine totes.
“That’s kind of our game plan. Hopefully we can move the ball,” Sain said. “I was glad to see Noah Marsh throw some passes in there, too.”
While its offense had little trouble moving against the Wildcats (0-1), its defense had little trouble stopping them.
West Lincoln held the Wildcats to 249 yards of total offense –– all but 10 of it on the ground –– and turned its one turnover into points.
“I was real proud of the defense, too,” Sain said.
Up next for the Rebels is North Lincoln, which stunned Lincolnton, 26-13, in its season opener. The Knights ran for 275 yards against Lincolnton’s vaunted defense, and they didn’t commit a turnover.
“I always knew that North Lincoln, playing in that 3A league, was only going to make them a better team after last season,” Sain said. “That’s a big win for them. This week’s going to be an even harder week for us to get ready.”
“This is going to be a tough week.”
Jason Baker of the Morganton News Herald contributed to this story.