SHELBY– The Golden Lions of Shelby took over sole possession of first place in the Midwest 2A conference Friday night with a hard fought 7-0 victory over the Lincolnton Wolves at Blanton Stadium.
The opening plays from scrimmage set the tone for the night, that this was going to be a game dominated by the defenses. Shelby fullback Tavorris Jolley was hammered in the backfield on the second play by Lincolnton`s Jacquece Reeves causing a fumble, and the Wolves came away with the games first turnover inside the Lions 20-yard line.
Lincolnton, however, would not be able to put any points on the board, turning the ball back over to Shelby on downs.
The Lions had several chances to score in the first half, but were unable to put any points on the board against the bend but don`t break Wolfpack defense. The next three Shelby drives ended with a blocked field goal, a field goal that missed wide left, and turning the ball over on downs at the Lincolnton two yard line.
Although the Lions had outgained the Wolves in total offense 161 yards to 17 in the first half, they had no points to show for it as the teams went in at the break.
Shelby wasted no time getting on the scoreboard in the third quarter. On the Lions first possession of the second half, tailback Terrell Gullatte scored from seven yards out, going straight up the middle of the Lincolnton defense. Doug Spada added the extra point, and Shelby had taken the 7-0 lead.
Late in the third quarter, Roger Rojas` sack of Lions quarterback Darryl Montgomery caused another Shelby turnover. The Wolves recovered Montgomery`s fumble at the Lion`s 40-yard line and were in position to tie the game. Lincolnton drove to the Shelby 15-yard line before turning the ball back over to the Lions on downs.
The Wolves got the ball one last time with 57 seconds remaining in the game from their own 34-yard line. On second down, Shelby`s Van Eskridge intercepted Zack Gibson`s pass at the Lions` 30 yard line to seal the victory.
The Lions outgained the Wolves in total offense, 264 yards to 77. But, it was the Lincolnton defense coming up with big stops at key times that kept them in the game.
Shelby, ranked number one in the North Carolina state 2A poll, came into the contest averaging more than 40 points per game. Gullatte led the Lions rushing attack gaining 151 yards on twenty carries.
Lincolnton head coach Scott Cloninger was proud of his teams overall performance, especially the defense. “I think they (the defense) finally realized what it takes to play on this level,” Cloninger said.
Cloninger pointed out several defenders, Rojas, Kyle Snyder, Kenny Reed and Demory Williams, but said it was really a total defensive effort. Cloninger also praised the game plan of his defensive coaches. “If we can play that type of defense, they will keep us in games,” Cloninger noted.
As for the teams struggles on offense, Cloninger said that we could look for a jayvee player or two to move up this week. “We`re just looking for a little more firepower on offense,” noted the Wolves head coach. Cloninger also said that he would probably move about 12 jayvees up for the playoffs.
With the win, the Golden Lions stay perfect in the Midwest 2A with a 5-0 mark, and improve to 8-1 overall. Shelby`s only loss came to county rival Crest, ranked very high in the 3A poll, back in September. The Wolves fall to 4-1 in conference play, 6-3 overall, and are now tied with East Rutherford for second place in the Midwest 2A. The loss also ends Lincolnton`s four game winning streak.
This Friday the Wolves travel to Bandys to take on the Trojans, while Shelby travels to Bunker Hill.
by David Keever