Independence High School’s Kelvin Hopkins threw for three scores and rushed for another to help the Patriots knock off Myers Park 49-7 on Friday at Gus Purcell Stadium.
The Mustangs (2-7, 0-4), who were celebrating their homecoming night, kept the game close in the first half, but three third quarter touchdowns by the Patriots (6-3, 3-1) put this one away early.
“It’s a huge win,” said Independence coach Joe Evans, whose squad moved to within a game of Rocky River (4-0) for the top spot in the Southwestern 4A Conference. “You watch (Myers Park) on film and they’ve got great athletes, they’ve got speed all over the field. You just hope that you can play well against them and don’t make many mistakes. Now, we made a few mistakes, but not enough to kill us.”
The Patriots started the scoring in the first quarter on their second possession when senior running back Isaiah Robinson, who finished the game with two TD’s, turned a fourth-and-one into a 37-yard touchdown.
“You can’t say enough about (Robinson),” said Evans. “He’s a workhorse. Fourth and one, you’ve got to understand who is going to get the ball. You’ve got to trust that he’s going to get it and trust the big boys up front to create some space for him.
“In a situation like that, they’re trying to stop a short run,” continued Evans. “He pops it and he’s gone. He made a great run and had good game.”
Down 14-0, with less than 20 seconds remaining in the first half the Mustangs – led by Alex O’Brien, who had replaced Clay Norris at quarterback – pushed the ball to the Independence 38 yard line.
O’Brien then sent a third-down pass into the end zone in the direction of an open Josh Howie, however the ball went in and out of the receiver’s hands and came to rest harmlessly on the grass.
The Mustangs miscue took the air out of their crowd and seemed to spark Independence, which started the second half with a 12-play 80-yard touchdown drive that ate up just over five and a half minutes of the third quarter.
The drive, which was kept alive by a 35-yard pass to Jamiek Davis on a third-and-19, was capped off by a Jamar Jenkins 9-yard reception from Hopkins.
“That’s the kind of drive we want to grind out,” said Evans “That’s really just taking control of it. When you can do something like that and you go for six minutes and your offense is keeping a great rhythm, you can’t beat it.”
By the time the third had come to a close, the Patriots had added touchdowns by Workpeh Kofa (receiving) and Hopkins (rushing as time expired) and led 35-0.
Junior running back Jaquavion Alexander rushed for the Mustangs only score of the night from a yard out with 2:30 to play in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots will have a chance to shake up the conference standings when they take on Rocky River Next Friday night in Mint Hill.
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