Mallard Creek isn’t ready to concede the MECKA 4A title – or more importantly, the state 4AA championship it has won the past two years.
Thanks to James Smith and Ryan Jones, the Mavericks are still looking to win both, taking a 37-27 victory over A.L. Brown on Friday night in a battle of Sweet 16 teams.
Smith threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns – all going to Jones, who had 122 receiving yards – and ran for a fourth for Mallard Creek, ranked No. 6 in the Sweet 16.
Chauncery Bowman added 105 rushing yards and a touchdown for the Mavericks, who overcame 156 penalty yards and an early score by the fifth-ranked Wonders.
“The conference title would be great,” Mallard Creek coach Mike Palmieri said. “(But) our goal is the state championship. Our season really hasn’t started. We’re going to be tough to beat come November.”
Smith completed 16 of 22 passes, with touchdown receptions to Jones of 26 and 26 yards in the second quarter en route to a 23-6 halftime lead. He then hit Jones again on a 70-yarder in the third quarter.
Smith also had a 13-yard keeper late in the first quarter that put Mallard Creek in the lead for good.
“All the teams have been counting us out because we’ve lost two games,” Jones said. “But we’ve gotten closer as a team, and we’ve all decided to work harder. Now we’re ready to show people what we can do.”
Damon Johnson threw for 140 yards and two touchdowns – both to Sherrod Sutton, of 26 and 34 yards – for A.L. Brown. The Wonders also got a 91-yard kickoff return from Sandon McCoy in the fourth quarter that allowed them to keep the game close.
Quote: “That’s a great football team down there – (Mallard Creek is) the best team in the state. They’re the defending state champions. I don’t care what their record is, until someone knocks them off and wins the state championship, they’re still the best in the state.” – A.L. Brown coach Mike Newsome.
Records: A.L. Brown 7-2, 2-2 MECKA 4A; Mallard Creek 8-2, 4-1.
Worth mentioning: The pregame coin toss was done by Juan Gaddy, the father of former Mallard Creek player Marquise Gaddy, who injured his neck Sept. 23 in a tackling drill during practice with Winston-Salem State’s football team. Gaddy was released from Levine Children’s Hospital on Wednesday.
What’s Next: A.L. Brown hosts West Charlotte next Friday; Mallard Creek has next week off, and will host North Mecklenburg on Nov. 6.