At times when two evenly-matched teams take the field, it is not always who makes the biggest plays. But it usually comes down to who makes the fewest mistakes. That team would be East Lincoln as they would leave William Eccles Field with a 20-7 victory over the host Green Wave on Military Appreciation Night.
The Mustangs would strike first with a 16-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Justin Barnett to Lucas McConnell. The extra point by Jaxon Sellers was good. After stopping the Green Wave on their next drive, the Mustangs were in prime position to extend their lead in the second quarter. But East Lincoln would make a mistake of their own. Austin Barnett was intercepted by J’don Sowell in the end zone.
Ashbrook would put together a solid drive. Kendall Massey would cap off the drive with a ten-yard touchdown run. Korbin Proctor’s PAT kick was good. The score would remain 7-7 at halftime. But in the second half, mistakes continued to kill Ashbrook. The Green Wave offense was plagued by false start and illegal procedure penalties throughout the game.
The Mustangs would get a scoring drive going in the third quarter. Justin Barnett would throw for another touchdown as he hit Mikivi Phinx for a 25-yard touchdown pass (PAT good). The Mustangs were back on top by a touchdown. Ashbrook just couldn’t get out of their own way offensively. In the fourth quarter, the Mustangs extended their lead with a four-yard touchdown run by running-back Cole Barber. The kick was no good.
With less than four minutes to go in the game, Trey Byers took the ensuing kickoff 84 yards all the way to the Mustangs’ 11-yard line. Needing points in a hurry, the Green Wave ditched the Wing-T/Double-Wing offense and went shotgun. But a fumbled snap on fourth down gave the Mustangs the ball back. The Ashbrook defense kept East Lincoln from getting the first down and got the ball back with just over a minute and a half left. But another fumbled snap put Ashbrook out of business.
“That offense is so hard to defend against. He’s got such a good squad over there at Ashbrook.” Said East Lincoln head coach David Lubowicz “That (interception) worried me. When you’re playing a team this good, you can’t make mistakes. We made that early mistake. But we showed a lot of poise.”
“2-0 absolutely! It’s exciting! It’s a lot more exciting than being 0-2 or 1-1.” Lubowicz said when comparing last year’s 0-2 start to this year “I told them at half-time I am not leaving here 1-1. We had just enough in the tank and they proved me right so I’m excited about that.”
“(Cole) Barber was a beast. He played both sides of the ball all night, offense and defense. He had 7 tackles (defensively) and numerous broken tackles (offensively). Justin Barnett makes the throws when he needs to make the big throws. He’s such a leader out there.”
When asked who stood out on defense, Lubowicz said “Ethan Martin, whole D-Line, and Trent Smith was all over the place. We played about 7 defensive linemen. You have to against this offense. The DB’s did not give up a big play.”
“Very disappointed in how we played, sloppy with our penalties, turned over the ball. Didn’t like the way we came as a team. We talked about playing together this week. I know we are better than what we played and it’s our job to get them right.” said Ashbrook head coach Brian Andrews “We got to eliminate ourselves as an opponent. You can’t beat a good football team if you’re going to make yourself an opponent. We’ve got to do better than that and it starts Monday at practice because we got Clover coming in here. They’re freaking good. We better get out butt in gear because they are going to throw it all over the yard and run it all over the place. We got to come in here and be disciplined. My main focus is our discipline right now.”
Andrews commented on switching from the wing formation to shotgun “We have several packages we can go into. We just wanted to get something going. It wasn’t a big secret of what we were going to try to do today when we came into the game. We wanted to give ourselves a chance to move the ball and take care of it. Hats off to East Lincoln. They beat us pretty good tonight. But I’m disappointed in the way we played.”
Ashbrook’s ground game amassed 227 total yards and a touchdown by Kendall Massey who led the team with 84 yards. Justin Barnett led the East Lincoln offense with 152 passing yards and two touchdowns. Cole Barber led East Lincoln’s rushing attack with 135 yards and the touchdown.
Ashbrook (0-2) will host Clover, SC (3-0) next week. Clover defeated South Point 34-7. East Lincoln (2-0) will host North Gaston (1-2). The Wildcats lost 32-14 to Lincolnton.