On a night full of momentum-swinging plays by both teams, Charlotte Latin running back Denzel Pearson produced the two biggest of them all in the closing minutes to help Latin defeat previously undefeated Davidson Day 23-22 on Friday.
Pearson scored the game-winner for the Hawks from a yard out with 1:25 remaining, then knocked away a last-gasp fourth down pass at the goal line by Patriots quarterback Will Grier as time expired to preserve the victory.
"We were down I don't know how many times, on the deck, and it looked like the game was pretty much in hand for Davidson Day," Latin coach Larry McNulty said. "The guys just kept fighting and pecking away. If you let somebody hang around long enough, they can bite you at the end. That's what happened. What a testament to our kids' mental toughness."
Pearson's last-second breakup was a fitting ending for the Hawks, who harassed Grier all night, intercepting him three times. Latin sealed the victory by limiting the Patriots to just 22 yards after they took over at their own 38 with 1:15 to play.
McNulty said his team's strategy was to put as much pressure as possible on Grier, who came into Friday's game with 3,077 yards passing, the third-most in the country.
"We got a good push up front and we made him get out of his comfort zone, and he couldn't set his feet a couple times," McNulty said. "That was kind of our plan. Our thought was, we're going to push the pocket and try to get in his face a little bit. I think that threw him off a little bit."
Leading 22-16, the Patriots nearly sealed the deal on defense. But a pair of costly Davidson Day penalties gave Hawks quarterback Daniel Jones and Latin three do-or-die fourth down attempts from inside the Davidson Day 20-yard line.
Finally, on 4th-and-8 from the Patriots' 10-yard line, Jones avoided pressure and weaved along the sideline to move the chains and set up Pearson for the game-winner.
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