Before Friday’s 31-13 win over Southwestern 4A conference rival Butler, nationally ranked Myers Park had won six games by more than 50 points, and the Mustangs’ starters had not been asked to play a complete game.
On Friday, forced to compete into the fourth quarter against a good team — on a night when fans arrived at the stadium 2 1/2 hours before kickoff — the Mustangs found some championship grit.
When Butler’s Jamal Worthy used a wildcat formation snap to run in from 11 yards and trim the lead to eight, Myers Park responded with a withering drive of its own.
It didn’t net a touchdown, but the drive ate up clock and stopped at the Butler 6 where kicker Matthew Dennis made a 23-yard field goal for the game-deciding points, giving his team an 11-point lead with 6:32 to play.
“This was the first time we have faced adversity this season,” Myers Park football coach, Scott Chadwick said. “I was really proud of how we responded tonight. You really don’t know how a team is going to respond until you have to do it. Give Butler a lot of credit though, they had the perfect game plan, to run the ball and they executed it very well.”
Myers Park got a late score after Butler shanked a punt and gave the Mustangs great field position. But the field-goal drive was the difference. Butler had the momentum. Myers Park faced adversity for the first time this season. The Mustangs handled it like the first-time state champions they hope to be.
And just like that, Myers Park (7-0, 3-0 Southwestern 4A) had its first 7-0 start since the 1983 team started 11-0 before losing 16-0 to Greensboro Page in the second round of the N.C. 4A playoffs. Myers Park also beat Butler (4-3, 2-1) for the first time in two decades.
The Mustangs’ last regular-season win over Butler was a 17-14 victory on Sept. 24, 1999. The Mustangs did beat Butler in the third round of the N.C. 4AA playoffs last season, winning 33-8.
Friday, quarterback Drake Maye, a junior committed to Alabama, had another good night. He completed 19-of-26 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for a third score. Butler’s Jamal Worthy ran 23 times for 136 yards and two touchdowns, but the rest of the Bulldogs managed 94 yards combined.
With the showdown win, Myers Park can take a big step towards winning the conference championship next week, in what could be a battle of conference unbeatens. The Mustangs will host Harrisburg’s Hickory Ridge High School. Hickory Ridge (5-1, 2-0) will play Rocky RIver (0-5, 0-2) Saturday at 5 p.m. at UNC Charlotte.
▪ The Mustangs’ defense impressed again holding Butler to only 228 yards of total offense (174 yards rushing, 54 yards passing), and made the big stops when they needed them late in the game.
▪ Butler (4-3) was without their starting quarterback Parish Metzger, who was out with an injury. That gave sophomore Ty Moore his first career start. Moore passed for 54 yards and rushed for 34 yards.
▪ The Myers Park crowd was impressive and loud Friday night on both sides, and a close game provided all fans with something to cheer for most of the game.
▪ Myers Park’s offense gets most of the headlines, but the Mustangs’ defense deserves a lot of credit too as they have only allowed 44 total points in seven games this year.
Three Who Mattered
Drake Maye, Myers Park: The Mustangs’ junior quarterback had a big night again going 19 of 26 passing for 276 yards and two touchdowns, while also running for 20 yards and another score.
Jamal Worthy, Butler: The Bulldogs’ senior running back controlled much of the game and clock with 130 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 21 carries.
Mushin Muhammad, Myers Park: The Myers Park senior wide receiver seemed to come up with a big play every time the Mustangs needed it with five catches for 69 yards and a touchdown catch.
Myers Park hosts Hickory Ridge Friday night (Oct. 18), while Butler travels to Independence the same night.
Butler 7 0 0 6 -- 13
Myers Park 7 7 7 10 -- 31
B: Jamal Worthy 1 run (Elijah Swett kick
MP: Tim Newman 2 run (Matthew Dennis kick)
MP: Drake Maye 1 run (Dennis kick)
MP: Muhsin Muhammad 12 pass from Drake Maye (Dennis kick)
B: Worthy 11 run (PAT blocked)
MP: FG Dennis 23
MP: Roe Chitwood 1 pass from Maye (Dennis kick)