Mallard Creek’s defense made the big play Saturday night, and the second-ranked Mavericks overcame No. 6 Vance 20-7 in a showdown of I-Meck 4A football powers.
Perhaps the biggest play in the nightcap of the Charlotte Kickoff Showcase at UNC Charlotte’s Richardson Stadium came late in the third quarter, with Vance trying to tie the game.
The Cougars (4-1, 0-1) had driven from their 47 to the Mallard Creek 9, trailing 14-7. But Cougars running back Joseph Morris, one of few Vance offensive players who was able to damage the tough Maverick defense, was hit hard and fumbled. Maverick linebacker J.T. Whitmire pounced on the ball.
That was the last serious threat Vance mounted.
The Cougars managed to keep Mallard Creek’s offense in check much of the night, but the Mavericks (4-0, 1-0) did their damage with big plays.
The winning touchdown, which came late in the first half on a 15-yard pass from Casey Kelly to Coleman Jeffcoat, was set up by a 32-yard Kelly-to-Jeffcoat pass.
And the Mavericks’ final score, on a 2-yard Kelly run early in the fourth quarter, came after Mallard Creek’s Eli Culp returned a punt 31 yards and Joshua McIntyre dashed 33 yards two plays later.
Mallard Creek marched 88 yards on its opening possession for a touchdown, with Kelly throwing 25 yards to Nick Treco for the score.
Vance tied the game early in the second quarter, on a 3-yard toss from Nigel Summerville to Power Echols. The big play on that 61-yard drive was a 58-yard run by Morris.
The Mavericks’ rugged defense held Vance to 190 yards’ total offense – almost one-third of that coming on Morris’ long scamper in the second quarter.
Records: Vance is 4-1, 0-1 in I-Meck 4A; Mallard Creek is 4-0, 1-0.
Three who mattered
Elijah Metcalf (Mallard Creek): Metcalf caught four passes for 74 yards, including a 47-yard reception in the first quarter.
J.T. Whitmire (Mallard Creek): Whitmire, a junior defensive lineman, recovered a Vance fumble at the Mallard Creek 14 late in the third quarter. That stopped Vance’s last serious drive.
Joseph Morris (Vance): Morris, a sophomore running back, carried 19 times for 92 yards. He accounted for nearly half his team’s total offense.
▪ Mallard Creek quarterback Casey Kelly completed 11 of 24 passes for 205 yards. He threw for two touchdowns and ran for another.
▪ Vance gave its fans a momentary thrill late in the game. Down 20-7, the Cougars’ Nyier Clark broke free for what appeared to be an 85-yard touchdown run. But the play was called back for a holding penalty.
▪ There was no official attendance announcement, but it appeared as if between 8,000 and 9,000 fans were on hand for the doubleheader.
▪ Harrisburg Hickory Ridge overcame an early deficit and whipped Independence 33-7 in the opening game. The Patriots (3-2, 0-1 Southwestern 4A) took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on an Antwon Watson run and Ryan Howe kick. But the Ragin’ Bulls (3-2, 1-0) came back. They scored in the second quarter on a Chris Massey interception return, went ahead in the third period on an Isaiah Littlejohn run, and added three fourth-quarter scores. Silas Cruce scored two of the three touchdowns in the final period.
▪ Both teams had problems with penalties. Vance was whistled nine times for 78 yards, and Mallard Creek was penalized 10 times for 102 yards.
▪ Vance travels to Hopewell on Friday. Mallard Creek will be at home against Lake Norman.
Vance 0 7 0 0 - 7
Mallard Creek 7 7 0 6 - 20
MC -- Nick Treco 25 pass from Casey Kelly (Tim McCutchen kick)
V -- Power Echols 3 pass from Nigel Summerville (Ryan Richardson kick)
MC -- Coleman Jeffcoat 15 pass from Kelly (McCutchen kick)
MC -- Kelly 2 run (kick failed)