Weddington High earned another date with a state championship game.
The Warriors picked off four passes to spark a 24-6 win Friday against Hickory Ridge in the N.C. 3AA West Region championship, their second in three seasons. It’s another step in a campaign riding an 11-game win streak after starting 1-3.
“We’ve got a good group of kids that fight hard in practice to win it each week, and on Friday nights they come out and play,” Weddington coach Tim Carson said.
The Warriors seized the momentum by capitalizing on second-quarter interceptions by Richie Laughlin and Max Brimigion on consecutive possessions. Laughlin’s pick resulted in Matt Peterson’s 34-yard field goal with 3 minutes, 13 seconds left for a 3-0 lead. Brimigion’s theft at the Warriors’ 48 set up David Bayha’s 1-yard plunge for a 10-0 lead at halftime.
“We try not to give up the big play,” Carson said. “That’s the key for us.
“At the beginning of the year when we were 1-3, we gave up a lot of big plays and we tried to minimize them to give ourselves a chance to play.”
Hickory Ridge averted the shutout on a 31-yard strike from Trevor Shue to Brock Angel to cut the deficit to 17-6 with 6:31 to play. But Weddington slammed the door on Denzel Patton’s 4-yard run on the next possession. The Warriors ran for 82 yards in the second half.
“In the fourth quarter, I don’t know if it’s fatigue on the other side’s (defensive) line, but our offensive line comes together in the fourth quarter,” Carson said. “I love it.”
Defenses dominated early, especially Weddington’s, which limited Hickory Ridge to 52 yards in the first half. The Warriors rushed for 9 yards on 19 carries, but Bayha hit 4-of-9 passes for 121 yards. Key passes included a 55-yarder to Joey Hobbs to set up the field goal and a 46-yard strike to Laughlin that led to Bayha’s dive. He completed 11-of-17 passes for 195 yards.
Records: Weddington is 12-3. Hickory Ridge finishes 12-3.
What’s next: Weddington will play Eastern Guilford for the N.C. 3AA title. Eastern Guilford (15-0) beat Jacksonville 26-21 Friday night.
Hickory Ridge 0 0 0 0-6
Weddington 0 10 0 14-24
W - Matt Peterson 34 FG
W - David Bayha 1 run (Peterson kick)
W - Joey Hobbs 1 run (Peterson kick)
HR - Brock Angel 31 pass from Trevor Shue (run failed)
W - Denzel Patton 4 run (Peterson kick)