A little bit of offense and a whole lot of defense lifted Charlotte Christian over visiting Charlotte Catholic 6-0 Friday night in a meeting of defending state champions.
The Knights made at least a half-dozen big defensive plays, stopping Catholic on fourth down twice in Charlotte Christian territory in the last five minutes. The final Cougar scoring threat ended when a potential touchdown pass bounced off a Catholic receiver’s finger tips.
Meanwhile, Charlotte Christian scored on its first series and saw it hold up.
The loss snapped a 16-game winning streak for Charlotte Catholic, which won the public school 3A state title last year. Charlotte Christian is the defending private school 3A champion.
Catholic’s ground game, held largely in check in the first half, came to life in the third quarter. The Cougars drove to the Knights’ 37 but were forced to punt after a procedure penalty ruined an attempt to go for it on fourth down.
The Cougars came back again, driving to the Knights’ 15 with four minutes left, but they were stopped on fourth down when J.T. Killen tackled Catholic running back Lamagea McDowell 3 yards short of a first down.
Catholic’s defense, which kept Charlotte Christian in check for most of the game, forced the Knights to punt on their next possession, and the Cougars began moving again.
But the Knights’ Obi Egbuna sacked Catholic quarterback Chris Walton on second down, and two plays later, Walton’s pass into the end zone flew just beyond the fingertips of receiver Paul Neel.
Charlotte Christian had one big play in the first half and made the most of it.
It happened on the Knights’ first possession. On a third down from the Charlotte Christian 29, quarterback Garrett Shrader found wide receiver J.D. Awolowo on a long completion to the Cougars’ 5. On fourth down at the 2, the Knights elected to go for the touchdown, with Shrader diving into the end zone. The conversion kick was blocked.
Records: Charlotte Catholic is 0-1; Charlotte Christian is 1-0.
3 who mattered
Lamagea McDowell (Charlotte Catholic): The Cougars’ standout junior running back carried 28 times for 119 yards. Teammate Michael Neel added 105 yards on 19 carries.
Blake Long (Charlotte Christian): Long, a senior tackle, had three tackles for loss, including a fourth-down stop on McDowell in the fourth quarter.
Caleb Stephens (Charlotte Christian): Stephens, a junior linebacker, had a sack and a fumble recovery.
▪ Charlotte Christian gained 81 yards on its first possession. But the Knights were held to 69 yards for the rest of the game – just 31 yards in the second half.
▪ Charlotte Catholic used its ground game in the second half. The Cougars didn’t throw a pass after halftime until the final 70 seconds of the game.
▪ The low scoring shouldn’t have been a surprise. The teams have opened against each other four straight years, and in the first three years, no team scored more than 20 points. The first meeting, in 2015, produced a 5-0 Charlotte Catholic victory.
▪ The game is a box-office success. Stands on both sides of the field were filled 25 minutes before kickoff, and fans lined the sides of the field.
<▪ Charlotte Catholic’s last loss was in December 2016 – to Greensboro Dudley in the 4A state playoff semifinals.
Charlotte Catholic is home next Friday against South Mecklenburg. Charlotte Christian is off next week and plays Aug. 31 at home against Covenant Day.