Michael Neel helped Charlotte Catholic atone for a subpar season debut.
The Cougars running back tallied 216 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-0 win against South Mecklenburg in their home opener at Jim Oddo Field, an emphatic recovery from a season-opening 6-0 loss to Charlotte Christian.
Catholic got off to a 17-point halftime lead and was never threatened behind a productive rushing attack sparked by Neel, who carried the ball 14 times with four runs of at least 18 yards. The Cougars rushed for 406 yards on 41 attempts.
Neel and fellow tailback Lamagea McDowell (15 carries, 87 yards) supplied the first-half energy by rushing for a combined 183 yards on 22 carries. Neel was especially effective with 134 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 11 carries, including an 87-yard gallop to give Catholic a 10-0 advantage early in the second quarter. McDowell added another 49 yards on 11 attempts.
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Catholic’s defense limited South Mecklenburg to 42 yards total offense in the first half, will all but 1 yard in the air.
Records: South Mecklenburg 0-2; Charlotte Catholic 1-1.
Three who mattered
Neel: Catholic running back tore through South Mecklenburg for 216 yards, and three scores, including 134 yards in the first half with a pair of touchdowns on 11 carries.
McDowll: The other half of Catholic’s tailback tandem ran for 49 yards on 11 first-half carries, primarily between the tackles.
Adam Robbe: Catholic free safety forced the game’s only turnovers with two interceptions. He also scored on a 45-yard run in the third quarter for a 31-0 Cougars advantage.
▪ South Meck managed 102 yards total offense.
▪ The two teams combined for a pair of enforced penalties in the first half.
▪ Cougars quarterback Christopher Walton wasn’t required to pass often, but he kept South Mecklenburg’s defense honest by connecting on 4-of-6 attempts for 41 yards, all in the first half.
▪ South Meck’s lone bright spot was the special teams. The Sabres blocked a field goal and recovered a muffed punt.
South Mecklenburg is at Ardrey Kell; Charlotte Catholic hosts Charlotte Country Day.