In their previous two games, the Mallard Creek Mavericks fell behind their opponents early only to rally for late comeback victories. Against the Kannapolis Brown Wonders on Friday, Mallard Creek used a different winning formula.
The Mavericks (8-1 overall, 5-0 conference) raced to a three-touchdown lead at halftime then staved off a Kannapolis (4-5, 2-3) rally to grab a 52-35 MECKA 8 4A road victory.
Mallard Creek quarterback James Smith accounted for four touchdowns and rushed for 175 yards on 12 carries. Tailback Chancery Bowman had three touchdowns and a game-high 188 yards on 16 rushes.
Trailing 28-7 at halftime, Kannapolis played evenly with Mallard Creek for the final two quarters. Alexander Degrassi’s 21-yard field goal put the Mavericks up 31-14 early in the fourth quarter.
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The teams traded six touchdowns over the next 11 minutes, with two of Kannapolis’ scores coming on consecutive times the Wonders touched the ball. Brown’s smallest deficit was 45-35 with 1:50 left in the game when Sandon McCoy picked up his teammate’s fumble in the end zone for a score.
Brown quarterback Damon Johnson, who carried nine times for 161 yards, raced for an 81-yard touchdown run and Jalen Cagle had an 84-yard kickoff return for a score in the fourth quarter. Bowman scored twice in the final period, including a 52-yard run.
“We wanted to start fast,” said Mallard coach Mike Palmieri. “(A.L. Brown) is a good football team. They have fast athletes.
“I just told our guys some games are offensive games, some games are defensive games. As long as we find ways to win games that’s what we’re all about.”
Mallard Creek scored on all its first-half possessions except the last. Smith had a hand in three of the four.
The Mavericks needed just four plays after the opening kickoff to gain a 7-0 lead. Smith covered the final 43 yards of a 65-yard drive with an option run to the left in which he covered the last 30 yards being chased by three defenders.
Brown tallied its only first-half points on the ensuing possession when it drove 74 yards on eight plays. Johnson’s 41-yard run set up Cagle’s 1-yard plunge to the right as the Wonders evened the score with 6:47 left in the first quarter.
Mallard Creek needed just four plays again to build a lead which it would not relinquish. After a 36-yard kickoff return by Cam Stover, Smith followed his 22-yard scramble with a 23-yard option up the middle in which he nearly had open field after the first five yards.
The Mavericks extended their lead to 21-7 with 25 seconds left in the first quarter. Chancery Bowman got separation at the line of scrimmage and cruised 44 yards for a score.
Smith’s arm covered most of the ground on Mallard Creek’s next scoring drive. He connected on passes of 12 and 15 yards to Javon Harbison and Mahlon Medley, respectively, as the Mavericks reached the Wonders’ 7.
On the next play, Smith hit Vernon Grier on an inside slant as Mallard Creek built a 28-7 halftime lead.