Charlotte Christian football coach Jason Estep didn’t hide his disappointment with last week’s 19-14 loss to Charlotte Catholic in a battle of teams ranked in the top 10 of the Observer’s Sweet 16 poll.
Christian ran up more than 300 yards offense in the first half at Charlotte Catholic, but turned the ball over three times on Catholic’s side of the field. So what Estep thought could’ve been an easy night turned into a slugfest that his team ultimately lost.
And to Estep that loss made Friday’s win at Myrtle Beach that much sweeter.
Christian rallied for a wild 54-51 decision against the No. 5 ranked 4A public team in MaxPreps’ South Carolina poll, a win that wasn’t done until quarterback Garrett Shrader hit Ricky Kofoed for a 13-yard pass on fourth-and-9 with 22 seconds left.
“It’s a huge win,” Estep said. “You know that. Bouncing back after what happened last week, when we felt we were three touchdowns better than our opponent and it didn’t work out that way on the scoreboard. I told the kids after the Catholic game that it’s not about when you fall, because you’re going to fall, but about how you get up.
“Today, I never felt like were out of the game. I said if the clock is in our favor, we’ll keep scoring. We had some young guys in the game, and we were a little banged up, but they played their butts off and we had a chance to win it.”
The teams combined for 105 points and 1,009 total yards and it really got wild after Christian took a 47-32 lead on an touchdown interception return from JB Awolowo. There was about eight minutes to play. But Myrtle Beach scored three times in the next four minutes to take a 51-47 lead. Xayvion Knox intercepted Shrader and returned it 40 yards for the go-ahead score.
But, as Estep said, he felt good about scoring -- as long as time was on the clock.
Charlotte Christian (1-1) had about four minutes.
Awolowo returned the kickoff near midfield and Christian drove down the field and finally arrived at the 13. On fourth down, Estep said he felt his team could get something over the middle. Shrader threw it there and Kofoed made a one-handed catch for a game-winner that left Myrtle Beach at 0-2 for the first time in more than a decade.
Besides redeeming his fourth-quarter turnover, Shrader had perhaps the best game of his career: 25-of-35 passing for 288 yards and three touchdowns, plus 15 carries for 181 yards rushing and four more touchdowns. He also caught a pass for 30 yards.
Most importantly, he made the hero play when his team needed it most.
“We called trips boundary,” Shrader told the Myrtle Beach Sun News, “and we went stick pump (where) our tight end Ricky Kofoed did a hitch and go. The line gave us enough time and (Kofoed) made a play.”
▪ Powerhouse teams continue to find problems getting games. Mallard Creek and Scotland County scheduled each other, basically, because they couldn’t find dance partners. Part of the reason Charlotte Christian took its team to the beach was because the Knights can’t find anyone to play. Ditto, Butler, which has two byes in the first three weeks of the season.
“It’s hard to find people to play,” Charlotte Christian’s Estep said. “Phone calls don’t get returned. Emails don’t get returned. It makes it tough.”
▪ Well, with reigning N.C. 4AA state champion Wake Forest beating 4AA power Richmond Senior 38-13 Friday and Mallard Creek beating 4AA power Butler 42-9, it’s hard to not think ahead to a potential meeting between Wake Forest and Mallard Creek in the state championship game. Of course, there are some potential roadblocks for both teams along the way. Mallard Creek, for example, will likely have to tangle with Butler again and teams like West Forsyth -- which has 105 players and beat Winston-Salem Carver 68-6 Friday -- are looking strong, too. But the Mavericks look like the class of 4AA West, and Wake Forest looks like the class of 4AA East.
That could make for one of the most anticipated 4AA championship games ever. Mallard Creek and Wake Forest have each appeared in three of the past four 4AA title games. Mallard Creek has won three and Wake Forest has won one. Also, Mallard Creek beat Wake Forest in the finals twice: 59-21 in 2013 and 25-14 in 2014. Don’t you think Wake Forest would want a trilogy meeting? But it’s not even September.
▪ First-year coach Eric Morman, a former Richmond Senior player, is doing a solid job at North Meck. The Vikings are 2-0 after Friday’s 48-0 win over Olympic. It’s the first time North has started 2-0 since 2009.
▪ Impressed with Hough kicker Cam Lewis. He made a 50-yard field goal against West Mecklenburg last week and was just a tad short on a 59-yard attempt against Providence Friday. Most coaches wouldn’t even think of attempting a 59-yard kick. Shows you how strong Lewis’ leg is.
↑Independence: Patriots beat Hopewell 56-0, giving first-year coach Mike Natoli his first win. It was Independence’s first shutout since November 2015, when they beat Lake Norman 31-0.
↑Statesville: Down a point to Lake Norman, and without the ball, the Greyhounds rallied to win on a field goal with three seconds left. A shanked punt set Statesville up with a short field.
↑Vance and receiver Jaylen Riley: A week after being blown out by West Meck, the Cougars played angry in a 55-0 pasting of Monroe, ranked No. 11 in the Observer’s Sweet 16. Vance led 41-0 at halftime. Riley, a senior receiver, had seven catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Three years ago, he had open heart surgery after doctors discovered a problem with his left heart valve.
↑Marvin Ridge: upset Sweet 16 No. 8 AL Brown in dominant fashion 35-14
↓West Mecklenburg injuries: Hawks quarterback Preston Brown got hit in his hip Friday and went to the doctor to get checked out. He left the Hawks’ 36-6 win against West Charlotte in the second quarter. Coach Jarvis Davis isn’t sure of his status. The Hawks also haven’t had major-college recruit Khafre Brown all season. Brown, who has run a 10.3-second 100-meter dash, is recovering from ACL surgery. Good news? Davis said Khafre Brown will back soon. “We haven’t made up our mind which week yet,” Davis said.
↑East Mecklenburg defense: Stopped Ashbrook’s two-point conversion attempt with 41.8 seconds left to perserve a 14-12 win.
↔Victory Christian-Carolina Pride football Friday: Victory Christian was forced to forfeit because it did not have enough eligible players. Just three years ago, Victory Christian won the N.C. Independent Schools Division III state championship.
Friday’s Top Performers
Julian Boddie, Kendren Smith, Providence: Boddie rushed for 232 yards and three touchdowns in 31-27 upset of Sweet 16 No. 13 Hough. Smith’s fourth-quarter interception sealed the win. Smith had two interceptions in the game, one of which he returned 28 yards for a score.
Nasjzae Bryant, Trenton Simpson, Mallard Creek: Bryant ran 12 times for 72 yards and four touchdowns in a win over Butler; Simpson ran 14 carries for 150 yards
Ishod Finger, Metrolina Christian: 21 carries, 324 yards, five touchdowns in a 47-27 win over Union Academy. Finger also had three catches for 76 yards. In two weeks, he’s rushed 34 times for 405 yards and he’s caught six passes for 115 yards. He’s scored 11 times.
Garrett Shrader, Charlotte Christian: Completed 25-of-35 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns in a 54-51 win at Myrtle Beach. He ran 15 times for 181 yards and four touchdowns.
Jordan Starkes, Rock Hill Northwestern: 10 catches for 190 yards and two touchdowns in a 42-28 come-from-behind win over Dorman. Teammates Dequez Harris (137 yards rushing, two scores) and Dustin Noller (334 yards passing, three scores) also had strong games.
J’Mari Taylor, West Mecklenburg: 21 carries, 123 yards, two scores in a 36-6 win over rival West Charlotte.
No. 10 Shelby 29, Asheville Reynolds 6: The four-time state champions took a 19-0 lead into the fourth quarter and won easily Friday. Xavier Brooks ran 24 times for 186 yards and three touchdowns for the Golden Lions.
Alexander Central 28, Wilkes Central 6: Gunnar Anderson threw for 187 yards and Tevin Clark rushed for 87 yards and two scores in the win. Wilkes Central had 313 yards total offense but scored only on JoRaye Morrison’s 41-yard run in the second quarter.
Porter Ridge 44, Piedmont 7: Grayson McCall had a huge night for the Pirates against a Union County rival. He was 8-for-12 passing for 137 yards and three scores and he ran six times for 68 yards and two touchdowns. Porter Ridge ran up 437 yards total offense, including 140 yards rushing from Malcolm Hines and 85 yards receiving from Jake Heath, who had three touchdown receptions.
SouthLake Christian 34, Hickory Grove 14: SouthLake led 21-6 at halftime in the win. Bailey Jones was 16-for-22 for 193 yards and four touchdowns. Luke Binkley had 11 tackles.
Links To Friday’s Content
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