Quarterback Sam Howell was moving Indian Trail Sun Valley’s offense up and down the field, and the Spartans built a two-touchdown lead over Weddington.
Yes, Weddington had the Spartans just where it wanted them.
The Warriors, ranked 11th in the Observer’s Sweet 16, mounted a comeback for the second straight week against an undefeated team and overcome No. 7 Sun Valley 31-21 Friday night.
Nine days earlier, Weddington rallied for a 31-21 victory over Boiling Springs Crest. That game, like Friday’s at Sun Valley, was a battle of unbeatens.
“Our kids groan when we talk about conditioning, but there you have it,” Weddington coach Andy Capone said after his team scored the game’s final 24 points Friday night. “We were tough at the finish.”
Sun Valley (4-1, 0-1 Southern Carolina 3A) piled up 359 yards of offense in the first half. Howell, a Florida State commit, completed 12-of-18 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns before halftime. He also ran for 102 yards.
But he was held to 2-of-6 passing for 13 yards in the second half. And he was sacked four times, finishing the game with 89 rushing yards. The Spartans were held to 26 yards’ offense in the final two quarters.
Penalties played a big role. Sun Valley was whistled 16 times for a staggering 173 yards in penalties. The infractions played a big role in two Weddington touchdown drives and stopped the Spartans’ offense several times.
The Warriors’ (5-0, 1-0) comeback actually started late in the first half. Will Shipley broke loose for a 61-yard touchdown run that cut Sun Valley’s lead to 21-14 at intermission. Weddington tied it late in the third quarter on a 15-yard Shipley run, and the game winner came with 10:32 left, when Dante Casciola connected with Max Brimigion on a 21-yard touchdown pass.
Just as they did against Crest, the Warriors put together a back-breaking final drive, mostly on the ground. Starting at their 14, they drove to the Sun Valley 18 and scored on a 35-yard Ian Williams field goal with two seconds left. The Warriors’ final drive consumed all but two seconds of the final 6½ minutes.
Records: Weddington is 5-0, 1-0 Southern Carolina 3A; Sun Valley is 4-1, 0-1.
Three who mattered
Shipley (Weddington): Shipley carried 17 times for 161 yards, scoring two touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 20 yards.
Eamon Murphy (Weddington): Murphy, a senior linebacker, had two sacks and harassed Howell for most of the second half.
Howell (Sun Valley): Howell finished with 245 yards passing and 89 yards rushing. He accounted for all three touchdowns, running for one and passing for two.
▪ Casciola, a sophomore playing for the second week, had a rocky start but finished well. He threw for 104 yards, including the winning touchdown.
▪ The game drew a full house at Sun Valley. Stands on both sides of the stadium were filled a half-hour before kickoff, and fans were lined two-deep around the field.
▪ Sun Valley fans, noting Howell’s commitment to Florida State, broke into the Seminole chant several times during the game.
▪ Weddington won’t have much time to celebrate. The Warriors face defending conference champion and 2017 state 3A champ Charlotte Catholic next Friday.
▪ Howell never made it to the second half of last season’s game against Weddington. He was injured in the first half and Weddington rallied for a 36-35 victory.
▪ Weddington took a big gamble in the closing minutes, going for it on fourth down from its 24. The Warriors needed a half-yard for a first down and Shipley gained 9 yards.
They said it
“It helped that our offense stayed on the field a lot in the second half. I don’t know the time of possession, but it seemed like we had the ball a lot. That helped our defense.” – Capone.
Weddington travels next Friday to Charlotte Catholic, while Sun Valley is home against Monroe Parkwood.
Weddington 7 7 7 10 -- 31
Sun Valley 14 7 0 0 -- 21
SV -- Isaiah Hall 11 pass from Sam Howell (Nick Bartolomeo kick)
W -- Wayne Dixie 12 run (Ian Williams kick)
SV -- Howell 1 run (Bartolomeo kick)
SV -- Hall 55 pass from Howell (Bartolomeo kick)
W -- Will Shipley 61 run (Williams kick)
W -- Shipley 15 run (Williams kick)
W -- Max Brimigion 21 pass from Dante Casciola (Williams kick)
W -- FG 35 Williams