The Charlotte Catholic Cougars used their rushing machine to put a damper on what was a festive homecoming game at South Mecklenburg Friday. Led by premier running back Elijah Hood, the Cougars ran through the Sabres for a 42-6 victory.
Hood rushed for 261 yards on 21 carries and scored four touchdowns for Catholic. Two of Hood's four touchdowns were long runs, including a 66-yarder and a 57-yarder. On both long runs, Hood broke numerous tackles on his way to the end zone while out-racing the Sabres’ secondary. In all the Cougars piled up 422 yards on the ground, and South Meck was simply unable to stop them.
The Catholic defense bent at times but never broke. The Cougars (6-2, 4-0) also forced three South Meck turnovers while shutting out the Sabres in the second half and yielding only 95 yards.
Catholic quarterback Ryan Miller also threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jamie Powers, and had a 2-yard rushing TD. Nakyree Stephens had the lone Sabres score on a 1-yard plunge. The Cougars scored on three of its first four opening-half possessions and led 21-6 at the half.
Three turnovers by South Meck, including two in the first half, derailed what could have been a much closer game at the half. “We do a lot of damage to ourselves,” said Sabres coach Rocky White. “It should have been 21-21 at the half, but you can't make those kind of mistakes against a good football team like Catholic.”
The Cougars were up 7-0 in the first quarter when South Meck (2-6, 2–2) drove deep into Catholic territory before Sabres quarterback AJ Elam was picked off in the end zone by Cameron Roberts. On the Sabres next possession and trailing only 14-0, Stephen Griffin fumbled in the red zone thwarting another South Meck scoring opportunity.
Despite the loss, White sees improvement in the Sabres in his second season at the helm. “We're taking baby steps, our kids are learning and we're getting better every week,” he said. “Our kids don't quit, they've come a long way and we've got a bright future. We're going to keep working at it.”
The victory was Catholic's fourth in a row and sets up a big showdown at home next Friday against once-beaten West Mecklenburg. The Sabres will try to snap a two-game losing streak next Friday as they travel to Olympic.
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