Charlotte Catholic finally got a breather Friday night.
After running a gauntlet of three rugged Southern Carolina 3A opponents, the Cougars scored in the first minute against host Unionville Piedmont and cruised to a 41-0 victory.
Catholic took over sole possession of first place in the conference without asking its offense to carry much of the load. The Cougars scored on an interception and a punt return, and their defense thoroughly dominated a young Piedmont team.
The deciding score happened on the third play of the game. On second down, Piedmont went away from its power running game and attempted a pass. Sophomore Henry Saunders’ throw was picked off by the Cougars’ Jacob Schachte and returned 29 yards for a touchdown.
Catholic led 14-0 after the first quarter, 31-0 at halftime, and was able to play its reserves for much of the second half.
It was a nice break for the Cougars after the past three weeks – a narrow victory at Monroe, followed by wins over previously unbeaten Weddington and once-beaten Indian Trail Sun Valley.
Catholic’s Paul Neel rushed for 105 yards, but 64 of those came on a third-quarter touchdown run.
Rather, it was the Cougars’ defense and special teams that made the difference. Brian Jacobs returned a second-quarter punt 80 yards for a Charlotte Catholic touchdown, sand the Cougars held Piedmont to 121 yards total offense. A big chunk of that came in the fourth quarter, against the Catholic reserves.
Records: Charlotte Catholic is 7-1, 4-0 in Southern Carolina 3A; Piedmont is 2-6, 0-4.
3 who mattered
Jacob Schachte, Catholic: He got on the scoreboard with a 29-yard interception return in the first quarter, but Schachte also played a key role in stifling Piedmont’s power running game.
Will Griggs, Catholic: He kicked field goals of 42 and 31 yards, clearing the crossbar with plenty to spare on both kicks.
Adam Robbe, Catholic: A senior linebacker, Robbe intercepted a Piedmont pass in the first quarter and had three tackles for losses.
▪ Friday’s meeting was only the second in football between the two schools. Catholic won 36-7 last season.
▪ Piedmont’s most successful drive came late in the first quarter. The Panthers had three first downs and drove from their 20 to midfield before Catholic’s Ari Rodriguez sacked Saunders on fourth down.
▪ The Panthers passing attack got off to a rocky start. Saunders was picked off on his first attempt, sacked on the second pass play and intercepted on the third try.
▪ There wasn’t a penalty called until the final minute of the first half. It was a different story in the second half – nine penalties, including three personal fouls.
▪ Catholic starting quarterback Chris Walton only threw four passes, as the Cougars were able to rely on defense and special teams.
▪ It was homecoming at Piedmont and Cindy Price was crowned homecoming queen.
Catholic is home next Friday against Monroe Parkwood; Piedmont travels to Monroe next Friday.
Catholic 14 17 7 3 - 41
Piedmont 0 0 0 0 - 0
CC -- Jacob Schachte 29 interception return (Will Griggs kick)
CC -- Michael Neel 17 pass from Chris Walton (Griggs kick)
CC -- Brian Jacobs 80 punt return (Griggs kick)
CC -- FG 42 Griggs
CC -- Lamagea McDowell 2 run (Griggs kick)
CC -- Paul Neel 64 run (Drew Morais kick)
CC -- FG 31 Griggs