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New Bern stops Catholic 23-15 for 4A title

What was a spectacular season for Charlotte Catholic football ended with a loss Friday night at Wake Forest’s BB&T field.

The Cougars fell to New Bern 23-15 in the N.C. 4A championship game. It’s the fourth straight time the Cougars have lost after making a state final.

Despite a lackluster offensive performance, Charlotte Catholic (14-2) had a chance to tie in the closing minutes of the game, down by eight with 4 minutes and 14 seconds left.

The Cougars got past midfield, but a 4th-and-10 John Walton pass was intercepted by New Bern’s Sha’mond Squires.

After nearly two full quarters of scoreless football to start the game, New Bern scored 16 quick points in the final 2 minutes and 35 seconds of the first half.

The Bears (16-0) scored first on a 1-yard direct-snap run by DJ Howard. New Bern got a safety on the ensuing Charlotte Catholic possession when Walton was called for intentional grounding in the end zone.

The Bears then took the free kick and scored two plays later on a 37-yard pass from Mike Hughes to Brennen Soileau to take a 16-0 lead into halftime.

Charlotte Catholic struggled to get going offensively, especially in the first half when it was held to just 26 total yards.

The Cougars finally found some success running the ball up the middle, including two second-half touchdown runs by Jaret Anderson (15 carries, 84 yards) from 35 and 2 yards. But the Catholic backs could never turn the corner outside against the stout New Bern defense, which came into the game allowing less than eight points per game.

Hughes led New Bern offensively, going 5-of-11 passing for 133 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He also rushed for 106 yards on 22 carries.