West Charlotte High can exhale.
The Lions snapped a 16-game losing streak with a 20-16 victory against West Mecklenburg on Friday, West Charlotte’s first since a 28-7 triumph against Mooresville on Sept. 28, 2012.
“My first win,” said Lions running back Pralowe Grier, who scored all three West Charlotte touchdowns, including the game-winning reception from 15 yards out with 3 minutes, 22 seconds left. “I’m very happy.”
Said Lions coach Mo Collins, who earned his inaugural win in his second try: “I’m just happy for my seniors. It’s for the kids. They needed that. The community’s behind them, they needed it, too.”
Grier sparked the Lions (1-1) offense with 88 total yards (73 rushing), but he was efficient in the second half. After being held to minus-2 yards rushing in the first half, his scoring runs of 53 and 3 yards in the third quarter put the Lions ahead 14-3. After West Charlotte’s special teams smothered a West Mecklenburg (0-2) punt attempt late, Grier grabbed Izaiyah Cole’s pass in the flat and raced into the end zone.
“I couldn’t do it without my offensive line,” Grier said. “It was all a team thing. I’m proud for this win, but we’ve got to come back and work hard on Monday.”
West Meck regained the momentum on Domo Williams’ leaping grab of Dyami Brown’s 18-yard pass in the corner of the end zone for a 14-13 advantage with 11:44 left, but West Charlotte made big plays when necessary. The Lions turned the tide when their special teams forced West Meck to turn the ball over on downs deep in Hawks territory and defensive back Quintin Mickerson salted the win with an interception in the dying seconds.
“We’re young and the kids played hard,” Hawks coach Jeff Caldwell said. “Guys were trying to make plays. I always thought we had a chance, an opportunity, but the plays didn’t fall our way at the end.
West Mecklenburg controlled possession in the first half, but managed only a seven-point lead at the break on Brown’s 33-yard scoring strike to Victor Harris with 8 minutes, 26 seconds in the opening quarter. Brown completed 5-of-8 passes for 86 yards before recess.
West Mecklenburg’s defense dominated the first half, limiting West Charlotte to 10 yards before the half compared to the Hawks’ 134. Both teams were penalty-prone, with West Mecklenburg flagged eight times for 70 yards while the Lions were docked 60 yards on six penalties.
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