As the running backs go, so go the football fortunes of East Mecklenburg and North Mecklenburg.
And East Mecklenburg’s standout running back went a little farther Monday night, as the Eagles ground out a 28-18 nonconference victory over host North Mecklenburg.
Khamal Howard, a 5-foot-11, 200-pound junior, ran the ball 38 times for 240 yards and two East Mecklenburg touchdowns. His North Meck counterpart, 6-0, 214-pound junior Emanuel Wilson, had 12 carries for 174 yards and two touchdowns.
Wilson rushed for 300 yards in a North Mecklenburg victory a week ago.
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He had 132 rushing yards late in the first quarter, when the Vikings burst to a 12-0 lead. But the Eagles’ defense stiffened, limiting the North Meck runner to 44 yards in his final 15 carries.
“He’s a great player, and we prepared all week for him,” Eagles coach Barry Shuford said. “We let him have two long plays, but for the most part we did a good job against him.”
The Eagles, who squandered two scoring opportunities with turnovers early in the game, burst in front in the second quarter on touchdown runs by Khalil Gilliam and Davis Cotton. Then they relied mostly on Howard after halftime. He scored both of East Mecklenburg’s second-half touchdowns.
Quote: “We did what we do best – run the ball. We have several good backs, and we’ve built the offense around them.” – East Mecklenburg coach Barry Shuford.
Records: East Mecklenburg is 2-1; North Mecklenburg is 1-2.
Worth mentioning: North Meck standout linebacker Kalvin McCollum, injured in a mid-August car wreck in which a Vikings cheerleader was killed, returned to the sideline Monday night, but only for the coin slip as a captain. Vikings officials said he is not healthy enough to play. …The Eagles turned the ball over four times inside the North Mecklenburg 30. ...Senior cornerback Tyreik Morrison picked off two North Meck passes.
What's Next: East Mecklenburg is home Friday against Harding; North Mecklenburg is home Friday against Community School of Davidson.
East Mecklenburg 0; 14; 7; 7;-;28
North Mecklenburg 12; 0; 0; 6;-;18
NM -- Emanuel Wilson 9 run (pass failed)
NM -- Wilson 84 run (kick blocked)
EM -- Khalil Gilliam 2 run (Christian Thomas kick)
EM -- Davis Cotton 32 run (Thomas kick)
EM -- Khamal Howard 24 run (Thomas kick)
EM -- Howard 13 run (Thomas kick)
NM -- Kevin Buford 6 pass from Jaelan Anderson (pass failed)