Berry Academy put together a complete effort to close its non-conference football schedule.
Quarterback Omar Baker accounted for 287 yards total offense and the Cardinals shut out West Charlotte in the second half of a 33-14 victory on Friday at Berry to break a three-game slide to start the season.
“I got that first monkey off my back,” Cardinals coach Andrew Howard said.
Baker, a junior, connected on 16 of 22 passes for 225 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another 62 on seven carries to pace Berry (1-3). He made sure everyone got an opportunity to shine in the passing game by hitting six receivers, with split end Victor Harris catching five passes for 92 yards and a pair of scores. Mahlon Medley added six for 74 yards.
“I know if I tell (Baker his statistics), he won’t be satisfied,” Howard said. “At the end of the day, that’s our guy. He had a heck of a game last week (against A.L. Brown) and it carried over to this week.”
Berry’s defense, led by linebacker Cayson Collins, a North Carolina commit, was stout, especially in the second half. West Charlotte, which dropped to 0-4, moved the ball via the run (173 yards) but couldn’t maintain enough consistency with the pass to keep up. West Charlotte’s quarterbacks, freshman Dirk Cureton and sophomore Isaiah Kelly, completed a combined 3 of 9 passes for 49 yards as Berry’s defense hounded them.
“We made some adjustments at halftime,” Howard said. “We tried to put a little bit more pressure on them as far as blitzing and different things of that nature because of the young quarterback and we tried to make them make some choices.
Said Lions coach Marcus Surratt: “We put the ball on the ground, we turned the ball over. It seemed to be our thing. You’re not going to win like that, and you’re definitely not going to win like that with 14-year-old quarterbacks.”
Berry Academy outgained West Charlotte 231 yards to 126 in the first half, with Baker managing 165 combined yards to stake the Cardinals to a 20-14 advantage. Baker hit 8 of 11 passes for 123 yards and three touchdowns and five Cardinals had receptions, with Harris leading the way with four for 73 yards and a score from 33 yards out to put Berry in front 14-0.
West Charlotte didn’t buckle, however, answering with Cureton’s dive from 1 yard out and a dart to Kier Way in the back of the end zone 6 seconds before the break to pull the Lions to within a touchdown.
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