HUNTERSVILLE Josh Ladowski has proved he can make big plays when his Lake Norman football team needs him most, accounting for 5,276 yards and 59 touchdowns in the air and on the ground combined last season as a junior.
Friday night, in his team’s season opener, Ladowski came up big again, passing for 205 yards and a score, while rushing for 108 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Wildcats to a 35-28 comeback victory at North Mecklenburg.
While Ladowski was big all game, he made critical play after critical play in the fourth quarter, running the ball 12 times for 77 yards and two touchdowns, while going 4-for-4 for 28 yards in the final 12 minutes.
Still, the Lake Norman quarterback wasn’t impressed with his effort.
“That wasn’t a good game for me,” Ladowski said. “They held us to too many three and outs. I like to score every time we get the ball.”
While Ladowski played the lead role for Lake Norman (1-0), he got a lot of help from his supporting cast.
After Lake Norman jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first half, North Mecklenburg roared back, scoring 28 straight points to take the lead on the first play of the final quarter when Corey Patton ran the ball straight up the middle and burst 37 yards for a score.
On the ensuing kickoff, Lake Norman senior Corey Joyner (also had seven catches for 109 yards) made one of biggest plays of the game to turn the momentum, returning the ball to the 50 yard-line while also getting a late hit tacked on to the play.
Two Ladowski passes and runs later, the senior quarterback bulled his way up the middle for a 6-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 28-28 with 10 minutes, 13 seconds to play.
After North Meck and then Lake Norman both stalled out on offense on their next drive, the Wildcats’ special teams came up huge again when the Vikings’ Kendall Coles muffed the ensuing punt with Lake Norman’s Dylan Galbo setting his team up on the Vikings’ 26.
Five plays later, Ladowski ran in for a 4-yard touchdown, which proved to be the game-winner, giving his team a 35-28 lead with 5:13 remaining.
“(Josh) is the best player in the state hands down,” Lake Norman football coach Rob McNeely said. “He knows he has 10 guys around him to help make plays too. But he’s (Ladowski) special and he can anticipate the big play before it ever happens.”
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