Butler played rope-a-dope Friday night, absorbing Myers Park’s best punches in the first half and then surging to a 28-7 victory over the previously unbeaten Mustangs.
Butler, ranked No. 5 in the Observer’s Sweet 16, scored 28 straight points in the second half. Sophomore Jamal Worthy, getting most of the carries after senior standout Nijere Peoples was injured early in the first quarter, rushed for 152 yards – 117 of those after the half.
Meanwhile, the Butler defense frustrated Myers Park’s explosive offense, holding the Mustangs, No. 6 in the Sweet 16 poll, to 192 total yards. Mustang quarterback Brayden Hawkins was limited to 13-of-35 passing with an interception.
Myers Park had a chance to blow the game open in the second quarter.
Leading 7-0, the Mustangs twice started drives inside the Butler 40. But they were unable to get a first down either time, hobbled by overthrown passes, a penalty and a bad snap.
Butler had six possessions in the first half, with an average starting spot of its 16. Myers Park, on average, started from its 44.
After intermission, it was another story. Butler’s ground game began carving out big chunks of yardage, and the Bulldog defense kept the clamps on Hawkins and his talented receivers. The Mustangs’ two heavily recruited wide receivers – Elijah Bowick and Muhsin Muhammad – each had only four catches in the game.
Records: Butler is 5-1, 3-0 in Southwestern 4A; Myers Park is 6-1, 2-1.
3 who mattered
Jamal Worthy (Butler): He didn’t get into the end zone, but Worthy was the difference in the second half. He carried 27 times for 152 yards and had 53 yards in his final five carries.
T.J. Cusick (Butler): He and fellow Bulldog defensive backs Damel Hickman and Keyon Lesane shut down the Mustang passing attack. Cusick had two near-interceptions and several pass breakups.
Muhsin Muhammad (Myers Park): In addition to his 29-yard touchdown reception, Muhammad also returned a punt 31 yards to the Butler 35 in the second quarter. The Mustangs were unable to convert that return into points.
▪ Both teams were hurt by penalties. Myers Park had nine infractions for 105 yards, and Butler also had nine penalties, for 85 yards.
▪ Butler’s standout senior running back, Nijere Peoples, was injured on the Bulldogs’ first play from offense. Myers Park was penalized for a late hit on the play.
▪ Myers Park kicker Tyler Dameron has been busy this season with extra points and field goals. Friday night, he was busy as a punter. Dameron punted eight times.
▪ Butler is a young team. The Bulldogs have six sophomores and two freshmen in their starting lineup.
▪ Myers Park running back Khamal Howard lost his helmet on three of his six first-half rushes. N.C. High School Athletic Association rules require a player to sit out the next play after a helmet is lost.
▪ Friday marked one year and one day since the teams last met – a 53-0 Butler rout of previously undefeated Myers Park, on the Mustangs’ field.
Butler travels to neighborhood rival Independence next Friday, while Myers Park is home against Southwestern 4A newcomer Hickory Ridge.
Butler 0 - 0 - 14 - 14 – 28
Myers Park 0 - 7 -0 - 0 - 0 – 7
MP - Muhsin Muhammad 29 pass from Brayden Hawkins (Tyler Dameron kick)
B - Quasean Holmes 10 run (Alex Harrell kick)
B - Navarreo Rorie 29 pass from Christian Peters (Harrell kick)
B - Keyan Lesane 11 run (Harrell kick)
B - Holmes 3 run (Harrell kick)