In a game that spanned nearly 95 hours from kickoff to the final whistle after being suspended late in the third quarter Thursday evening, it was Stuart Cramer that emerged victorious Monday night, defeating the Lincolnton Wolves 10-7.
The game was tied 7-7 when the teams returned to the field Monday, with Stuart Cramer facing a fourth down in Lincolnton territory. Rather than attempting a go-ahead field goal, the Storm rolled the dice and picked up a first down inside the Wolves’ 10-yard line.
The Lincolnton defense stood tall, however, eventually forcing the Storm into a field goal attempt, which split the uprights to give Stuart Cramer a 10-7 advantage early in the fourth quarter.
The Wolves went three-and-out on back-to-back drives after Stuart Cramer took the lead, but an inspired defensive effort gave Lincolnton’s offense one final chance with less than five minutes to play.
With the Storm selling out to stop Lincolnton’s ground game, new head coach Joe Glass turned to senior quarterback E.J. Manjarres.
Manjarres found Deondra Smith on a pair of bubble screens to pick up a first down, and then hit senior Dejarris Gash on a screen pass for 20 yards. Gash beat his man on a double move on the following play, and Manjarres dropped a perfect deep ball between two defenders as Gash streaked down the sideline for 30 yards to move the Wolves inside the red zone.
A stuffed run, an incomplete pass and a false start penalty put Lincolnton in a 3rd and long situation as the clocked ticked under two minutes. Manjarres dropped back in search of the game-winning touchdown, but his pass over the middle was intercepted, securing the victory for Stuart Cramer.
The game finished how it started for the Wolves four days earlier, as Manjarres was intercepted on Lincolnton’s opening drive.
The early turnover provided the Storm with great field position, but the Lincolnton defense picked up its quarterback, stoning a Stuart Cramer handoff on 4th-and-short inside the red zone.
With the ball back in its possession, Lincolnton marched from its own 15 into Stuart Cramer territory.
Just when it looked like the drive may have stalled following back-to-back incompletions, Glass decided to leave his offense on the field on 4th and 10. Manjarres dropped back to pass, and with the pocket collapsing around him, the senior evaded trouble and scampered 29 yards through the Storm defense for the game’s first touchdown.
Lincolnton’s early 7-0 lead was short-lived, however, as Stuart Cramer answered on the ensuing possession. The Storm took the ball 70 yards on a drive capped by a 32-yard Harrison Shropshire touchdown run, with the burly running back shrugging off several Wolves defenders on his way to the end zone.
While both sides were gashed by long touchdown runs in the first quarter, each defense buckled down in the second despite facing less-than-ideal field position.
The Lincolnton defense, in particular, faced three consecutive drives where the Storm started either at midfield or in Wolves’ territory. Despite playing with their backs against the wall, Lincolnton stymied the Stuart Cramer rushing attack, forcing a punt and a turnover on downs before the Storm attempted a 45-yard field goal just before halftime that sailed wide right.
And as the teams were dismissed to the locker room at the half, the crowd was dismissed from the stadium for the first weather delay.
After a 30-minute delay and a brief warm-up, the Wolves kicked off to Stuart Cramer to open the second half. The Storm promptly went three-and-out, and after less than five minutes of game action, the players were once again ushered off the field and the bleachers were cleared ahead of a second 30-minute delay.
The game resumed for a third time around 10 p.m. Thursday, but as Stuart Cramer lined up to attempt another field goal after a promising drive stalled in Lincolnton territory, the game was suspended in lieu of a third delay.
The Wolves were led by Manjarres, who completed 9 of 19 passes for 101 yards, while also carrying the ball 5 times for 22 yards and Lincolnton’s lone touchdown. On defense, Malachy McGrisken led the charge with 12 tackles, while Tyler Duncan and Bernard Wingate each recorded a sack. Stuart Cramer’s lone turnover was a fumble forced and recovered by junior linebacker Keytric Patterson.
Lincolnton will be back in action at home Friday night against South Point.