Charlotte Catholic running back Milan Howard made a runaway of the Cougars’ showdown with host Marvin Ridge in a battle of unbeatens Friday night.
Howard repeatedly ran away from Maverick defenders, rushing for 236 yards as the Cougars capped a perfect regular season with a 49-21 romp.
Catholic swept to the Southern Carolina 3A title in their first season in the league.
The game essentially was decided by halftime.
At that point, Howard had rushed for 220 yards and three touchdowns, including an 89-yard run just 90 seconds before intermission. Meanwhile, the Cougar defense recovered from a shaky start and shut down Marvin Ridge’s powerful ground game.
Catholic, ranked No. 3 in the Observer’s Sweet 16, never had to punt until the second half. The Cougars shredded the No. 10-ranked Maverick defense, rushing for 154 yards in their first 11 carries. Quarterback Chris Walton only threw one pass in the first half.
Marvin Ridge matched Catholic early in the game and was tied 14-14 early in the second quarter.
The turning point might have come with about nine minutes left in the second period. Trailing 28-14, the Mavericks decided to go for a first down on a fourth-and-2 from their 39. Running back Caleb Deveaux was stopped a yard short of the first down. Catholic then drove 40 yards for its fourth touchdown of the half.
But the back-breaker came later in the second quarter. Backed deep in their territory, facing a second-and-19 from their 11, the Cougars called a draw play for Howard. He broke through the line and raced 89 yards for a touchdown.
Records: Charlotte Catholic is 11-0 and finished 7-0 in the Southern Carolina 3A; Marvin Ridge is 10-1, 6-1.
Three who mattered
Milan Howard (Charlotte Catholic): A 5-11 senior, Howard carried 16 times for 236 yards and three touchdowns.
Lamagea McDowell (Charlotte Catholic): He gave the Cougars an inside running threat, carrying eight times for 50 yards and a touchdown in the first half.
Bryce McLain (Marvin Ridge): The Mavericks’ starting quarterback was chased all night long by Catholic’s defense, but he managed to run for 102 yards. McLain was injured in the third quarter and didn’t return.
▪ Give credit to Catholic linebackers Ty Foley, Billy Brewer and Chase Foley. They shut down Marvin Ridge’s short passing game and forced Maverick quarterback Bryce McLain to scramble numerous times in the first half.
▪ Marvin Ridge kicker Alejandro Lopez had a big night. He sent most of his kickoffs into the end zone and punted four times for an average of 41 yards. His punts sailed high into the air and prevented Catholic from returns.
▪ Catholic finished with 393 yards rushing, with 338 of those coming in the first half. With a 35-14 halftime lead, the Cougars went with a short running game, for the most part, in the second half.
▪ The game matched two of the state’s highest-ranked 3A teams. Catholic enters as the No. 1 team in this week’s Associated Press poll, and Marvin Ridge was No. 3.
▪ Their names won’t be in any headlines, but for the record, the Charlotte Catholic offensive linemen responsible for the ground-game blitz were James Whalen, Jacob Smith, Malik Megowan, William Hambrook and Luke Gagnon.
Both teams will be in the playoffs, with first-round games Friday. Both schools are expected to be in the 3AA field.
Charlotte Catholic 14 - 21 - 7 - 7 – 49
Marvin Ridge 7 - 7 - 0 - 7 – 21
CC – Lamagea McDowell 8 run (Will Griggs kick)
MR – Caleb Deveaux 1 run (Alejandro Lopez kick)
CC – Milan Howard 9 run (Griggs kick)
MR – Deveaux 28 run (Lopez kick)
CC – Howard 17 run (Griggs kick)
CC – Chris Walton 1 run (Griggs kick)
CC – Howard 89 run (Griggs kick)
CC – Garrett McKernan 20 pass from Walton (Griggs kick)
CC – Holden Schachte 3 pass from Walton (Griggs kick)
MR – Ian Hunter 10 run (Jason Stricker kick)