High School Sports

No. 3 Vance Cougars escape major Mooresville upset bid in OT

Vance High improved its grip on second place in the I-Meck 4A, but it wasn’t easy.

The Cougars outlasted upstart Mooresville 20-14 in overtime Saturday at UNC Charlotte’s Richardson Stadium in a game that come down to a fourth-and-goal pass that barely escaped the reach of Mooresville’s wide-open Ryan Jackson.

“I watch film, and film don’t lie,” Cougars coach Glenwood Ferebee said. “I knew they were a well-coached football team and they were going to present some problems. I just didn’t know they were going to present problems like this.”

Vance struggled against Mooresville’s defense, which fought to a 14-14 standstill at the end of regulation. The Cougars turned to their rushing attack late, however, which started to assert itself heading into overtime, capped by Stefon Thompson’s 10-yard scoring run on the first play.

“I feel in the first half we played down to the competition,” said Thompson, who gained 45 of his 61 yards after halftime. “In the second half, we got after it, then going into overtime, I was like ‘we’ve got to go get this’ and put the team on my back. They stuck with me and we got it done.”

Mooresville jumped on Vance early with Ashton Edstron’s 72-yard gallop on the Blue Devils’ first possession, but the Cougars responded with Austin Grier’s 16-yard pass to Donta Armstrong and Jahlik Cooper’s 11-yard run. Moorseville forced another tie with Jackson’s 23-yard catch against a Vance defender that was draped over him.

The Cougars, who ran for 191 yards, were hard-pressed to put scrappy Mooresville away. Offensive inconsistency is a factor, but Ferebee believes there’s time to improve as the regular season heads into the home stretch.

“Part of that is just being disciplined,” he said. “We’re trying to find our identity offensively. Some of the things I’ve done over the years we can’t do right now with the personnel we have so we’re trying to find ways to adjust with what we have.”

Records: Vance 6-1, 2-1, Mooresville 3-4, 1-2.

Three who mattered

Ryan Jackson: What didn’t he do for Mooresville? He blocked a punt, recovered a fumble and scored on a 23-yard pass reception.

Fred Brown: Mooresville defensive end was a one-man wrecking crew, batting down three passes and forcing an intentional grounding penalty.

Dylan Tucker: Vance safety picked off a pair of passes in the Cougars’ end of the field to kill promising Mooresville drives.

Worth mentioning

Vance quarterback Austin Grier hit 9-of-12 passes for 86 yards in the first half, including a 16-yard strike to Donta Armstrong to tie the score at 7-all in the second quarter. He finished 12-of-24 for 144 yards.

Vance limited Mooresville to 196 yards total offense, compared to Vance’s 335 yards.

The Cougars were penalized 16 times for 140 yards, while the Blue Devils were flagged six times for 70.

They said it

“I’ve been getting more reps on offense in practice than defense, so that resulted in me getting the ball.” - Thompson

What’s next

Mooresville goes to Lake Norman, while Vance heads to West Charlotte.

Vance 0 7 7 0 6-20

Mooresville 7 0 7 0 0-14

First quarter

M-Ashton Edstron 72-yard run (Isaac Riffle kick)

Second quarter

V-Donta Armstrong 16-yard pass from Austin Grier (Melvin Benitez kick)

Third quarter

V-Jahlik Cooper 11-yard run (Benitez kick)

M-Ryan Jackson 23-yard pass from Dylan Quates (Riffle kick)

Overtime

V-Stephon Thompson 10-yard run (kick missed)

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