Give credit where credit is due: South Point had the perfect game plan for handling East Lincoln's offensive attack. They put their emphasis on stopping the big play, especially the long pass, and while East had 165 yards passing, it was on a total of 14 catches. QB Tyler Mizell had a quarterback rating of 70.8 for the game, far below his season avg. of 126. That forced East to rely on the rushing game offensively, and the Mustangs rolled up 236 yards, 82 of those by Mizell. Christopher Daley II had 113 yds rushing against the Red Raiders. But make no mistake about it--it was the East Lincoln defense that won the game.
South Point came close--very close. They stopped East at the Raiders' 22 as the Mustangs attempted to run out the clock, and managed to get to the East 12-yd line with seconds left, but a pass into the end zone was intercepted by Ben Cutter and East advanced to the state championship game this Saturday (Dec. 10th) at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh.
How close did South Point come? Had they scored on that play, they could have tied the game with a kick or won it with a two-point conversion.
The final score was 14-7, which shows that it was very much a defensive battle. This week, if the Mustangs are to win a state title, they'll probably have to do it with an offensive show.
The team they'll face is Northern Nash from Rocky Mount. Like the Mustangs, the Knights are 15-0; and like the Mustangs, they've almost always scored a lot of points and won by big margins. Friday night (Dec. 2nd), they squeezed by Seventy-First from Fayetteville 23-22.
Theirs, too, was a defensive battle for much of the game. A first quarter field goal gave the Knights a 3-0 advantage, and that remained the score until late in the third period when they scored a touchdown and with the extra point kick led 10-0 going into the fourth quarter. Seventy-first scored with eight minutes left in the game but failed to make a two-point conversion and Northern Nash was still ahead 10-6 until the Panthers scored again four minutes later and with two extra points led 14-10. Northern Nash passed for a TD with five minutes left for a 17-14 lead; but on their next possession, the Panthers scored again and again made a two-point conversion for a 22-17 advantage. The winning touchdown came when Knights quarterback Keno Jones completed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Ashton Rhodes on fourth-and-goal with 58 seconds left.
Friday night's win by the Mustangs started off looking like most East Lincoln games this year--they scored on their first possession. East ran for a first down on the first play from scrimmage. Three plays later, a pass from Tyler Mizell to Markell Clark gave East another first down. Mizell then ran for 9 yds; and Christopher Daley II ran for another first down into Red Raiders territory. Mizell completed a pass to Clark for another first down and a personal foul on the tackle got East to the South Point 19. Mizell carried on the next play; Ben Cutter ran to the 5-yd line and on first and goal, Daley ran for the night's first TD. With three and a half minutes played, after Christopher Mileta's EP kick, the Mustangs led 7-0.
That was all the scoring until the third period. After kicking off to the Raiders to start the second half, on their first possession in the third quarter, East made a first down; then Mizell ran for five yds to the Raiders' 49. On third down, a pass to Jackson Beam left East a yard short. After a timeout, on 4th and one, East faked a punt. They didn't make the first down, but a penalty moved the ball to the South Point 31. The Raiders had to punt and a long punt gave East the ball at their own 15. After a penalty on South Point, a pass to Keandre Walker got the Mustangs close to a first down; then Daley ran to the East 35. He followed that with a run to the South Point 40. A pass to Jackson Beam was too short. A pass to Riley Shropshire got the Mustangs to the Raiders' 19. Mizell ran to the 15. Cutter ran to the one-yd line and then scored on the next play. Mileta's kick made it 14-0.
Later in the third, South Point tried a pass and Walker returned it for what would have been another TD, but there was a block in the back penalty that brought the ball back into East Lincoln territory. On the play, Walker was hit in the end zone and injured and limped off the field. He would return, but was hurt again on defense later and that time, he had to be helped off the field.
Since their running game hadn't produced its usual results, the Raiders opted to start passing and had some success. Cam Medlock ran one yard for a TD with just over seven minutes left in the game and Charlie Birtwistle's kick cut the East lead to 14-7.
East, trying to run out the clock, got inside the South Point 30, but on a 4th & 9, Mizell got stopped two yards short at the Raiders' 22 and South Point had one more chance with no time outs and less than a minute left in the game. A pass was incomplete, leaving 34 seconds to play. Walker fell down on defense and Elijah Phifer caught a pass giving the Raiders a first down at the East 40. Walker had to be helped off the field. South Point QB Patrick Blee completed a pass to the East 27 with 15 seconds left. Blee was then tackled for a loss, but a face mask penalty moved the ball to the East 12 with 7 seconds left. Blee's pass was then intercepted by CUtter and the Mustangs won their 15th without a loss.
COMPARISON of teams:
QB rating 128
favorite receivers: Randall King, avg. 70 yds per game, 18 TDs;
Yasin Davis-McKinney 46 yds per game, 8 TDs; Trey Battle, avg. 39 yds per game, 6 TDs; Triston Sigers, avg. 36 yds per game, 2 TDs
QB rating 129
favorite receivers: Keandre Walker, avg 55 yds per game, 8 TDs; Markell Clark, avg 57 yds per game, 16 TDs; Jackson Beam, avg 26 yds per game, 7 TDs; Riley Shropshire, avg. 22 yds per game, 3 TDs
Christopher Daley ii
10.12 avg ys per carry
154 carries Sh
fumbles lost 0
12.6 avg per game
63 solo tackles
12.5 avg per game
41 solo tackles
8.1 avg per game
24 sold tackles
7.2 avg per game
32 solo tackles
6.3 avg per game
26 solo tackles
40.4 avg per game
points allowed 147
avg allowed per game 9.8
8 games in which other team scored one TD or less
East Lincoln 592 points
39.5 avg per game
points allowed 94
avg allowed per game 6.3
3 shutouts; 2 more games allowing no TDs
other team scored one TD or less in 13 games
The game will be broadcast on WCSL Radio (1590AM, 92.9FM) and online at ktcbroadcasting.com; and on WLON Radio (1050AM, 107.5FM). It will also be televised by Charlotte tv station WCCB-TV (over-the-air channel 18.1).