Elijah Hood rushed for 266 yards and three touchdowns Friday in Sweet 16 No. 11 Charlotte Catholics 29-13 win over No. 6 West Mecklenburg at Keffer Stadium.
But the most impressive thing he did in the game may have been a touchdown-saving tackle on defense.
The teams were tied 7-7 in the second quarter when West Meck running back Shaun Wilson took a handoff at the Hawks 7-yard-line. He broke into the open field and looked to have a sure touchdown until Hood, who was playing linebacker, tracked him down from behind and tackled him after a 63-yard gain.
It was a busted play, actually. We called a play designed the other way, Hood said. I think I was able to get a good tackle, saving the touchdown, getting a big momentum gainer.
Im a linebacker in a running backs body.
Three plays later, Catholics Cameron Roberts made a diving interception on a tipped pass by West Meck quarterback Jalan McClendon to stop the Hawks scoring threat.
Charlotte Catholic outscored the Hawks 22-6 the rest of the game.
The win keeps Charlotte Catholic (7-2, 5-0) undefeated in SoMeck 8 4A conference play. The Cougars have won 30 straight conference games dating to 2009.
Our team is really starting to get that roll that, you know, Catholic usually gets, Hood said. I think were just trying to keep the momentum and just try to take it all the way, as far as it can go.
Both teams put together long touchdown drives on their first possessions.
West Mecklenburg (7-2, 3-2) took the opening kickoff and drove the ball 56 yards over 8 minutes, scoring on a 1-yard keeper by McClendon.
Charlotte Catholic then drove the ball 71 yards over five minutes and scored on a 6-yard run by Hood to tie the score with 10:58 left in the first half.
West Meck nearly scored on the final play of the first half on a 50-yard pass from McClendon to Van Smith, but the Cougars kept him out of the end zone and time expired. The teams went into halftime tied 7-7.
Charlotte Catholic scored quickly on its first possession of the second half on a 2-yard run by quarterback Ryan Miller.
West Meck had the ball for nearly 10 minutes on the next drive before McClendon (10 for 17 for 143 yards) threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Donnell Gardner with 3 seconds left in the third quarter.
Hawks kicker Joe Nguyen missed the extra point, and Catholic led 14-13 after three quarters.
Hood scored two long touchdowns in the fourth quarter to put away the game.
His 54-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion run with 9:13 left gave the Cougars a 22-13 lead.
West Meck drove down to the Catholic 39 on its next possession, but the Cougars defense forced a turnover on downs.
West Meck had scored at least 27 points in every game this season coming into Friday.
We had a pretty good plan (on defense), Catholic coach Jim Oddo said. We had a pretty good idea what they were doing.
The Hawks were without Wilson (93 yards) for much of the second half. He left the game after a hard hit on a pass play in the third quarter.
Hood closed out the scoring on a 40-yard touchdown run with less than a minute to play.
I had a lot of fun today, Hood said. I was all over the place. I got to play offense and defense, and I just think that was a really special thing.
Inscoe: 704-358-5923; Twitter: @CoreyInscoe
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email email@example.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less