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EL hosts Jags

Mustangs look for 4-0 start

Sports Editor

Gastonia Forestview spoiled East Lincoln’s bid at a perfect non-conference schedule last season, and snapped its school-best win streak at 19.
The Mustangs look for revenge tonight.
East Lincoln (3-0) and the Jaguars (2-1) meet in Denver following last year’s 44-27 loss by the Mustangs in Gastonia, which was their first loss since a first-round state playoffs exit in 2011.
The defeat wound up being a moot point after East Lincoln was forced to forfeit its other three non-conference wins due to its use of an academically-ineligible player, but it was the first time it had looked vulnerable since going 16-0 the season before and winning the state 2A title.
East Lincoln had five turnovers that game, four lost fumbles, and were outscored 28-7 in the fourth quarter alone.
Turnovers have haunted the Mustangs this season, with 12 giveaways entering tonight’s matchup. Conversely, the Jaguars hadn’t turned it over this season until three giveaways cost it in a 35-21 loss to Kings Mountain.
The Mustangs have used the big play to make up for their turnovers. They had four giveaways in last week’s 28-27 win at North Lincoln, but two huge defensive plays late, including Chazz Surratt’s blocked PAT that would have tied it, helped keep them undefeated.
Forestview enters with a potent offense that averages 370.7 yards and 37 points per game, including a 499-yard output and 48 points in a season-opening win over Nation Ford (S.C.).
The Jaguars couldn’t get that offense going last week against Kings Mountain. A rushing attack that was averaging 314 yards per game was held to 73 by the Mountaineers.
East Lincoln enters averaging 330 yards of offense and 32.3 points per game, and is holding teams to 260 yards and 19.7 points. The Mustangs are the third-best team in the Southern District 7 Athletic 2A Conference at stopping the run at 172.3 yards allowed per game.

The Wolves travel to Mount Holly tonight to take on a team that has struggled to score.
The Warriors scored 14 points in a loss at East Lincoln in Week 1, and scored 15 points in a loss to Kings Mountain in Week 2. They allowed 35 and 43 points, respectively, in those games.
Lincolnton is coming off its best offensive effort of the season following a 48-9 win over North Gaston in its home opener. The Wolves benefited from the return of quarterback Jordon Easter, who missed the first two games with an ankle injury. Easter completed 5 of 10 passes for 127 yards, threw three touchdown passes, and orchestrated a 352-yard team effort.
East Gaston, which was off last week and plays its first home game of the season tonight, has won just nine games since the start of the 2011 season.

The Rebels went off last week behind Charles Mack George’s 268 rushing yards and six total touchdowns in a 60-38 win at Cherryville.
West Lincoln enters the 45th installment of the rivalry series as the SD-7’s top rushing attack at 276.7 yards per game –– more than 35 yards per game better than second-place Maiden –– and is led by George, the league’s top rusher, at 192.3 yards per game.
The Tigers are led by senior quarterback Matt Williams, who, after missing nearly all of last season with a broken leg, has completed nearly 51 percent of his passes (32 of 63) and has thrown for 508 yards and six TDs.
Williams threw for 222 yards and four TDs last week in a 49-21 win over Bunker Hill.
West Lincoln leads the all-time series 23-19-2. The teams did not play from 1989-92, and 1997-2000.

The Hickory Daily Record and the Gaston Gazette contributed to this preview.

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