Independence’s football season started off with a bang Friday night. The Patriots played to their No. 5 ranking in the Observer’s Sweet 16 with a dominating 49-0 victory on the road against South Mecklenburg.
Independence senior quarterback Kelvin Hopkins was a one-man wrecking crew, accounting for five of the Patriots’ seven touchdowns. Hopkins passed for 271 yards and four touchdowns, going 17 of 24. Hopkins also ran 18 yards for a score. Independence spread the wealth around with seven players catching passes.
Patriots wide receiver Will Walton had five catches and two touchdowns, while Pierre Lockwood, Jamar Jenkins and Quantavious McGill has single touchdown catches. Safety Adonis Alexander accounted for a defensive score, rumbling 60 yards after recovering a fumble by the Sabres.
Independence coach Joe Evans was pleased with Hopkins’ play and how the offense was spread around.
“Kelvin has come a long way in his maturation process as a quarterback,” Evans said. “We don’t really try to key on one person, because if that one person goes down or they scheme to take that one person away, what are you going to do?”
The Patriots (1-0, 0-0) had a bit of a slow start and led 7-0 with four minutes left in the first half. But a late second-quarter explosion of three touchdowns in a little over four minutes propelled Independence to a 28-0 halftime advantage.
It started with Alexander’s fumble recovery for a score that gave Independence a 14-0 lead. Three minutes later, Hopkins found Jenkins for a 7-yard score, and with just 18 seconds left in the half Walton caught the first of his two touchdown passes.
Walton, Hopkins’ favorite target, talked about the chemistry between the two.
“We’ve been working on this for four years,” Walton said. This is my senior year and it’s been me and Kelvin. We’ve been working since middle school and we clicked tonight.”
South Mecklenburg (0-1,0-0) found the going tough on offense, mustering only 182 yards and fumbling twice. The Sabres‘ best weapon was sophomore quarterback Tyshawn Carter, who went 10-of-16 passing for 117 yards and ran eight times for 35 yards.
Next up for the Patriots is their home opener Friday night against North Mecklenburg. South Mecklenburg will be back home Friday night hosting Rocky River.
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