One of the goals for the Charlotte Latin Hawks before the season was to earn the top seed in the playoffs so they would host all playoff games at Patten Stadium.
They got their wish and advanced to the title game next Friday with a hard-fought 28-7 win against Charlotte Country Day on Friday night, but they might have to play for the title without their star quarterback Bates Jones.
Jones went out with just over a minute left in the second quarter after he fell hard on his left shoulder at the end of a short run. He spent the second half with ice on the shoulder.
Before his injury, the game was much more defensive than last week’s 47-20 Latin victory. Latin’s defense shut down Country Day in the first half, allowing just 50 total yards and two first downs.
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Latin’s high-powered offense was kept in check for much of the half, but the Hawks were able to get three short touchdown runs – two by Jones and one by DeMarkes Stradford – to take a 21-0 halftime lead.
Country Day cut the lead to 21-7 late in the third when Wes Bingham found DeAngelo Epps with a 20-yard touchdown pass, and the Buccaneers seemed to have some momentum.
It was short-lived though, as on the first play of the fourth quarter Stradford took a handoff and went 61 yards through the middle for a back-breaking touchdown.
Quote: “Country Day came in ready to play and with an excellent plan,” Latin coach Larry McNulty said. “They made it tough on us, but this group has been ready to play all season and I was proud of how we fought, and now we play for a state title.”
Records: Latin stays unbeaten at 11-0. Country Day’s season ends at 4-6.
Worth mentioning: Stradford was the workhorse for Latin, rushing 24 times for 197 yards and two touchdowns. … Give Country Day credit. Last week Melvin Rouse had 258 total yards and two touchdowns against the Buccaneers; this week Country Day held the senior wideout to 53 total yards. The future is looking brighter at Country Day as its top three offensive skill players are young. Two are freshmen (Tim Newman and Twan Flip) and the third is a sophomore (Epps). …McNulty wouldn’t say much about Jones injury but did confirm that it was the left shoulder and at this point the Davidson basketball commit is questionable for the state title game.
What’s Next: Latin advances to the NCISAA Division I championship game and will host Charlotte Christian for the title.