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East Lincoln downs Thomasville


East Lincoln receiver Tyler Brock evades Thomasville defensive back Laperial Henderson during their game Friday night at East Lincoln. (Photo by Ben Goff/Gaston Gazette)


DENVER – Much as he’s done for the second half of the season, Thomasville’s Gabe Brockett rushed for big yardage on Friday night.

But while Brockett picked up 222 yards on 30 carries, he didn’t score and he fumbled six times (losing four of them).

East Lincoln was more than happy to take advantage of those mistakes and his failure to score in a 28-12 Mustangs’ victory that tied the school record for victories in a season as well as moving them within one win of a state championship appearance.

East Lincoln (14-0) will host Madison (12-1) in next week’s Western N.C. 2-A championship. The Mustangs will be seeking their second state finals appearance in five years.

“I thought we bottled him up pretty good,” said Mustangs coach Mike Byus, who was surprised by Brockett’s rushing total, which gives him 3,036 yards this season. “And other than not being able to run the football as well as we wanted, I thought we were pretty efficient on offense.”

With senior Garrett Young directing the attack, East Lincoln picked up 302 yards of offense and racked up 17 first downs. Young passed for 246 yards and had two touchdown throws to Tyler Brock. Freshman Chazz Surratt also scored twice, the last coming on a 59-yard interception return with 1:44 to play.

After a scoreless defensive struggle in the first quarter, Surratt scored on a 1-yard plunge with 4:15 left in the opening half.

Later in the half, after Thomasville was stopped on downs at the Mustangs 30 with 1:34 to play, Young directed a five-play, 70-yard scoring drive that sent East Lincoln into the break with a 14-0 lead — and the game’s momentum.

A 42-yard pass to Jesse Earnhardt got the Mustangs in business — as well as giving Earnhardt a school single-season receiving yards record (he now has 1,239 yards). One play later, Young hit Brock with a 14-yard scoring throw.

Thomasville nudged within 14-6 on the first of Isiah Marsh’s two touchdown passes, a 32-yarder to Dezmond Wilson, on the opening drive of the second half.

But East Lincoln responded two possessions later with a five-play, 50-yard drive capped by Young’s 16-yard scoring strike to Brock.

“I felt going into halftime that if we got to 28, we’d be fine,” Byus said. “Because that meant they’d have to score four touchdowns at least and I thought our defense was playing really well.”

East Lincoln got to 28 late in the game when Surratt cut in front of an out pattern and raced untouched down the Thomasville sideline with the clinching score.

It capped yet another all-around effort for Surratt, who played receiver, running back, outside linebacker and free safety and even threw a pass on a deep lateral from Young. Surratt had four solo or first-hit tackles, but he accounted for four of Thomasville’s seven turnovers by recovering two fumbles and intercepting two passes.

Other East Lincoln defensive standouts were Scott McMichael (13 tackles, three forced fumbles), Clay Hodges (nine tackles, two blocked kicks) and Billy Misenheimer (six tackles, one fumble recovery).

For Thomasville, a slow-starting season ends at 6-8.

Brockett picked up 1,730 of his 3,036 yards in the final five games, but the turnovers were the Bulldogs’ undoing on Friday.

Thomasville actually outgained East Lincoln 413-302 but was hampered by 11 penalties for 119 yards; the Mustangs were flagged 10 times for 80 yards.