High School Sports

Lake Norman defense backs up offense, controls Mooresville

Lake Norman’s offense has shown it can put up points this season, averaging nearly 42 per game.

The Wildcats’ defense showed Friday night that it can keep opponents from scoring as well, beating Mooresville 24-14 at Joe Popp Stadium to clinch the North Piedmont 3A-4A title.

Cole Jackson ran for 202 yards and two touchdowns, and Cole Ladowski added 188 total yards and a score for Lake Norman, ranked No. 8 in the Sweet 16.

The Wildcats were aided in large part by their defense, which held the 14th-ranked Blue Devils to 215 yards total offense and forced two turnovers, one coming in Mooresville’s red zone.

Jackson scored on a 1-yard run late in the first quarter, capping a 9 1/2-minute drive. A 29-yard field goal by John McCue midway through the second quarter gave Lake Norman a 3-point halftime advantage.

Jackson’s second score came after Blue Devils punter Jacob Benjamin had pinned the Wildcats at their own 4 early in the third. On the first play, Jackson broke through the line, shook off two tacklers and raced 96 yards for a 17-7 lead.

Ladowski finished off Lake Norman’s scoring with a 14-yard quarterback keeper late in the fourth quarter.

Mooresville was down 10-0 when it broke the shutout late in the second quarter. Aided by back-to-back personal foul penalties, Chris Murrell hit Lazarus Hayes on a 15-yard TD pass with 18.6 seconds left to cut the Wildcats’ lead to 10-7 at the half.

The Blue Devils’ final score also came in the closing seconds in the fourth quarter, on Donshel Jetton’s 2-yard run with 27.9 seconds remaining.

Records: Lake Norman 10-0, 6-0; Mooresville 7-3, 5-1.

Worth mentioning: The Wildcats also sacked Murrell three times, all on the same possession that led to Lake Norman’s final score. … Ryan Taylor came up with a fumble recovery in the first half for the Wildcats, and A.J. Lanton had an interception in the third quarter. … Ladowski threw for 120 yards, completing 12 of 19 passes, and ran for 68 yards on 13 carries. … Jetton finished with 148 yards on 24 carries for Mooresville. … The Blue Devils still lead the series with Lake Norman 10-5, but the teams have swapped the past six games.

What’s next: Lake Norman will host conference foe North Lincoln in its regular-season finale. Mooresville will wrap up its regular season at North Iredell.