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When Hickory needed a big play on the football field against Newton-Conover on Friday, Jahiz Linebarger was there to answer the call.
Linebarger rushed 18 times for 179 yards and three touchdowns, helping the Red Tornadoes earn a 33-28 win against the Red Devils.
As a team, Hickory (2-1) tallied 220 yards on the ground on 34 carries.
Linebarger made two pivotal runs to end the first and second half in the ball game.
His 60-yard run closed the first half to give Hickory a 20-7 lead.
Linebarger also scored on a game-clinching 47-yard touchdown run with 1:22 left in the contest.
â€śJahiz is one of our seniors,â€ť said Hickory head coach Mike Helms. â€śHe just played phenomenal. He ran the ball and did all of the things that you ask for in a tailback and more. He was just all over the field. He did a really good job for us. I was just pleased with him, his effort and what he did. He broke two long runs. He just has that breakaway speed that we needed from him tonight. We needed a win like this, but we let them back in the game quickly with mistakes, but weâ€™ll take it.â€ť
The Red Devils (1-2) lost two key offensive pieces in the first quarter of the contest, including starting center Wilson Elliot (right knee) and running back Nick Baker (left ankle sprain).
The status of both players for next weekâ€™s game is uncertain.
â€śWeâ€™ve got some people that got hurt tonight,â€ť said Newton-Conover head coach Brint Russell. We lost our starting center. "We lost Nick Baker in the first quarter. We are going to need to have some people step up next week playing a real tough Freedom team coming to our house.â€ť
Newton-Conover tries to bounce back next Friday when it hosts Helmsâ€™ former team in Freedom (2-1) at Gurley Stadium.
â€śItâ€™s stings,â€ť Russell said of the loss. â€śAny time you have close ones like that, it hurts. Weâ€™ll regroup and get better from playing quality opponents. Hickory is a good team. They pushed us to our limits. It was a tough game. Hopefully, weâ€™ll circle the wagons, come out a little bit harder next week and get better.â€ť
5:58 - Hickory's Jahiz Linebarger 2-yard run (XP is good)
11:54 Newton-Conover's Nick Baker 11-yard run (XP is good)
9:22 - Hickory's Jaquan Crawford 5-yard pass to Nate Surbaugh (XP is good)
2:27 - Hickory's Jahiz Linebarger 60-yard run (XP is no good)
HALFTIME - Hickory 20, Newton-Conover 7
9:27 - Newton-Conover's Blake Roberts 12-yard run (XP is good)
11:05 - Hickory's Crawford 69-yard pass to Ryan Honeycutt
2:17 - Newton-Conover's Cameron Stanley 28-yard pass to Josh Ramseur
1:22 - Hickory's Linebarger 47-yard run (XP is good)
1:04 - Newton-Conover's Tyrell Fleming 66-yard run (XP is good)