For much of this season, interceptions on the defensive end have helped fuel Charlotte Catholic’s football team.
The Cougars entered Friday night’s playoff game at East Forsyth’s Fred E. Lewis Stadium having picked off 23 passes this year. None of those, however, could possibly mean as much as Nos. 24 and 25.
Behind two second-half interceptions — including one with three minutes left — Charlotte Catholic staved off its second defeat in its past 29 games, securing a 28-24 win over the Eagles in the third round of the N.C. 4A football playoffs.
After not trailing in either of its first two postseason games, the Cougars faced a 17-14 deficit after sophomore tailback Christian Beal scored on a 7-yard touchdown run with less than four minutes left until halftime.
Charlotte Catholic stayed poised, however. Senior quarterback Brady Berger helped engineer a 64-yard drive, which concluded with a 9-yard touchdown grab by senior Jimmy Abate with 10 seconds left.
East Forsyth threatened to regain the lead, or at least tie the game, late in the third quarter. But on third-and-20 at the Cougars’ 23, Ben Brodowicz intercepted an errant pass.
The turnover allowed Charlotte Catholic to push its lead to 28-17 on the ensuing possession. But after Beal threw a touchdown just moments later and the Cougars turned the ball over on downs, Charlotte Catholic needed at least one more defensive stand.
Jack Lowe helped provide that, intercepting Brandon Bullins’ pass on the next play, ultimately sealing the win.
Quote: “I knew it was going to be a shootout, so to speak. … That’s just the type of kids I knew they had, and that’s the type of effort I knew we were going to get from them. Our kids just responded well down the stretch.” – Charlotte Catholic coach Mike Brodowicz.
Records: Charlotte Catholic is 13-1. East Forsyth finishes 12-2.
Worth mentioning: Penalties doomed the Eagles in the first half, as they committed seven for 78 yards. Two of those penalties — one of which wiped off a 41-yard touchdown run by Beal — came on East Forsyth’s third drive, which concluded with a 34-yard field goal by Cameron Lischke. … The Cougars benefited from excellent field position all night. Charlotte Catholic started only two of its drives inside its own 30-yard line.
What’s next: Catholic will play host to Greensboro Dudley (13-1) next Friday for the N.C. 4A Western Regional championship. Dudley beat Davie 54-30 to advance.
Charlotte Catholic 7 14 0 7 - 28
East Forsyth 7 10 0 7 - 24
E - Christian Beal 29 run (Cameron Lischke kick)
C - Milan Howard 19 pass from Brady Berger (Drew Morais kick)
E - Lischke 34 field goal
C - Howard 5 run (Morais kick)
E - Beal 7 run (Lischke kick)
C - Jimmy Abate 9 pass from Berger (Morais kick)
C - Jack Brigham 1 run (Morais kick)
E - Sedrick Sligh 9 pass from Beal (Lischke kick)