MAIDEN—Big play potential has been the key to Maiden holding on to the top spot this season in the Catawba Valley 2A Athletic Conference.
And that ability to make things happen on either side of the ball boosted the Blue Devils again on senior night at Thomas E. Brown Stadium.
Two big plays in the first six minutes of the game, one on offense and one on defense, set the tone for the entire night in Maiden’s 35-13 win over Lincolnton.
Lincolnton could have pulled into a tie for first place with the upset, but the Wolves fell behind 29-0 at the half and were never in the game thereafter.
Meanwhile, Maiden (8-1, 6-0) clinched a tie for the CVAC title and locked up the league’s No. 1 seed in the state 2A playoffs. The Wolves fell to 4-2 in the conference, 5-4 overall, with one game left in the regular season.
The complexion of the game changed dramatically on the first series. Lincolnton’s defense looked strong early, sacking Maiden quarterback Wesley Thompson twice and forcing the Blue Devils into a seemingly impossible third-and-23 situation inside their own 20.
But just when it appeared the Wolves’ defense would get off the field quickly under a surge of momentum, the Maiden offense hit a big one.
Thompson dropped back into the pocket, stared down the rush, and delivered a perfect strike over the middle to wide receiver Raheim Misher. The Wolves had the pass well covered, but the 6-4 sophomore reached out to grab the ball in full stride and ran to the end zone to complete an 83-yard touchdown.
Lincolnton might have recovered from that blow, but on the seventh play of the ensuing series, disaster struck. There was a fumble on a double reverse play, and Maiden linebacker Jackson Hensley scooped up the loose ball and ran 20 yards for a touchdown.
Carson Foard’s extra point kick made the score 15-0, and the Wolves were in trouble at the 6:44 mark of the opening quarter.
Lincolnton finally put together a sustained drive on its second possession, marching inside the Maiden 10 behind the running of Khamoni Heath.
However, the Blue Devils bucked up on defense to stop the threat, sacking quarterback Andre Bost for an eight-yard loss on fourth down.
After that exchange, Maiden drove 80 yards for a score, getting the final 43 yards on a hookup between Thompson and University of North Carolina commit Chris Culliver.
Midway through the second, the Blue Devils were in the end zone again as Thompson completed a 25-yard touchdown pass to Misher, making it 29-0.
Maiden was mostly content to sit on the lead in the anticlimactic second half, eating up clock with running back Ben Gibbs getting the bulk of the carries. The Blue Devils closed out their scoring with 1:12 left in the third quarter on a four-yard rush by Gibbs to make it 35-6.
The Wolves got on the scoreboard earlier in the third quarter after recovering a Maiden fumble at the Blue Devils’ 38. Bost tossed a 10-yard scoring pass into the corner of the end zone to Andrew Phelps, who stepped in front of a Maiden defender to gather in the pass.
As the final minutes ticked down, Lincolnton backup quarterback Karson Cloninger led the Wolves on a 48-yard touchdown drive. After Cloninger threw to freshman Gaige Ikard for a 36-yard gain, sophomore Treylen Bost scored from four yards out with 50 seconds to play in the game.
Even though Maiden won comfortably, Lincolnton had its moments on defense. Teeghan Strutt led a fierce pass rush that produced six sacks for minus 36 yards.
UP NEXT: Both teams close the regular season with rivalry games, with Lincolnton hosting West Lincoln and Maiden traveling to Newton-Conover.
Lincolnton 0 0 6 7—13
Maiden 15 14 6 0—35
Mustangs cruise to ninth win
East Lincoln continued their winning ways on Friday, rolling to a 50-7 win over the Raiders at North Iredell to improve to 9-0.
The Mustangs once again used a balanced attack on the offensive side of the ball to put 50 or more points on the scoreboard for the fifth time in their seven games.
Quarterback Tyler Mizzell threw for three scores and ran for three more to lead the East Lincoln offense. The senior’s touchdown tosses were to three different receivers, including a 38-yarder to Markell Clark, a 32-yarder to Keander Walker and from 24 yards out to Jackson Beam.
Mizzell finished the contest completing 14 of his 18 pass attempts for 189 yards and the three touchdowns. His rushing scores came from 20, 49 and seven yards out.
Sophomore running back Chris Daley had another solid outing, running for 133 yards and a touchdown on just eight carries.
The Mustangs had 441 yards of total yardage.
Senior linebacker Ben Cutter led the East Lincoln defense with 11 tackles. Aiden Terrell recorded seven tackles, Jaylen Roseboro six and Jarvis Stevens five. The Mustangs defense had nine tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including a pair of sacks.
UP NEXT: East Lincoln (9-0, 6-0) will try to close out a perfect regular season this Friday when they host county-rival North Lincoln. North Iredell will play their season finale at West Iredell.
East Lincoln 20 23 7 0 — 50
North Iredell 0 0 0 7 — 7
Rebels run away from Cavs
Senior running back Mason Avery continued to impress on Friday night, running for 218 yards on 25 carries, while scoring four touchdowns to lead the Rebels to a 56-12 win over East Burke at Douglas C. Leonhardt Stadium in Vale.
West Lincoln built a 28-0 lead by the end of the first half mainly on the running of Avery and teammate Jaylin Winnex.
Avery’s 18-yard touchdown run along with a Joel Sellers extra point gave the Rebels an early 7-0 advantage. Winnex would score the next two, first from four yards out and then a 54 yard jaunt to the endzone.
Quarterback Jordan Truesdale then got in the scoring column with a four-yard touchdown run, and West Lincoln took a commanding 28-point lead into the half.
Avery added scoring runs of eight, 38 and five yards in the second half and Lucas Howell’s 65-yard interception return for a TD closed out the Rebels’ scoring. DeeDee Wallace added another successful extra point for the final margin of victory.
In addition to Avery’s big night, Winnex had another solid outing, carrying the ball eleven times for 132 yards and a pair of touchdown runs. Truesdale added 33 yards and a score on four carries. West Lincoln ran for 387 yards on 40 carries as a team, with seven rushing touchdowns.
Defensively, the Rebels were led by Avery’s 15 tackles, along with 12 from Drew Ponder and 11 by Winnex. The West Lincoln “D” found the endzone once again with Howell’s 65-yard pick-six.
UP NEXT: West Lincoln (7-2, 4-2) will close out the regular season at county-rival Lincolnton. East Burke (2-7, 0-6) will host West Caldwell in their season finale.
East Burke 0 0 6 6 -12
W. Lincoln 7 21 14 14 - 56
Knights hold off West Iredell
North Lincoln managed just 211 total yards of offense on Friday but it was enough for the Knights to pick up their fourth straight win after an 0-5 start to the 2022 season.
Cody Morse and Tyler Donahue each had touchdown runs as North Lincoln edged past the Warriors for a 15-12 victory at West Iredell, pushing their record to 4-5 overall and 4-2 in the Western Foothills 3A Conference, and keeping the team’s playoff hopes alive.
Morse finished the game with 110 yards and a score on the ground on 21 carries to lead the Knights offense. Donahue added six carries for 50 yards with the touchdown.
North Lincoln is currently ranked 56th out of 105 3A teams in the North Carolina MaxPreps rankings. 64 teams will make the NCHSAA playoffs which begin on Friday, November 4, with 32 of those in the 3A West bracket.
UP NEXT: North Lincoln (4-5, 4-2) will close out the regular season this Friday at county rival East Lincoln.
(Published October 26, 2022)