A weary and injury-depleted Charlotte Christian defense rallied with two huge fourth-quarter plays Friday night and lifted the Knights into the state championship game with a 28-27 victory against Davidson Day.
The Knights dethroned Davidson Day as N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Division I champions by stopping the Patriots on two straight plays at the 1 early in the fourth quarter, and then blocking a field goal on the game’s final play.
Charlotte Christian (10-1) will travel to Charlotte Latin (11-0), which defeated Country Day in Friday night’s other semifinal, for the state championship next Friday.
The Knights played much of the game with three substitutes in the defensive secondary, because of injuries. Their standout defensive back, Beau Snuggs, was injured during the second quarter and did not return to the game.
It was a bad turn of events against a Davidson Day team led by standout junior quarterback Sam Hartman. He took advantage of the situation by passing for 414 yards and three touchdowns.
Davidson Day was trailing 28-27 with about eight minutes left in the game and drove to the Charlotte Christian 1. The Knights’ defense held, stopping Hartman twice on sneaks. Then Charlotte Christian quarterback Garrett Shrader got his team out of trouble by completing a 27-yard pass from the end zone.
The Knights were stopped on downs at the Davidson Day 13 with 1:29 remaining, and that gave Hartman a final chance. He completed three long passes and took the Patriots to the Charlotte Christian 13 with 9 seconds left. After an incomplete pass, the Patriots went for a field goal.
Charlotte Christian’s Bryden Reed blocked the 30-yard attempt by freshman Justin Simmons.
Quote: “What an amazing job of hanging tough and playing with heart.” – Charlotte Christian coach Jason Estep.
Records: Davidson Day finished 8-3; Charlotte Christian is 10-1.
Worth mentioning: Hartman, who has committed to Wake Forest, finished with 31 completions in 56 attempts for 414 yards. … Davidson Day lost the services of standout senior linebacker Ryan Titus, who was hurt during the second quarter. He watched the second half from the sideline. … The game was sloppy at times, with the teams called for a combined 24 penalties. Each team was penalized more than 100 yards. … Shrader finished with 137 yards rushing, including a 40-yard touchdown run that tied the game at 27 with 10:41 left. Christian VanSickle kicked the winning conversion. … VanSickle punted the ball to the Davidson Day 3 during the second quarter, but the Patriots responded by driving 97 yards for a touchdown.
What’s next: Davidson Day’s season is finished. Charlotte Christian will play next Friday at Charlotte Latin in the NCISAA Division I title game.