Merrick Haston rushed for 162 yards and two touchdowns to lead Ardrey Kell to a 21-9 nonconference win against Myers Park Friday as the Knights captured their first win in their home opener.
While Haston was the workhorse in the backfield, it was Ardrey Kell’s offensive line, led by 6-foot-5, 295-pound left tackle Taleni Suhren, that dominated the game. The Knights ran 25 plays behind Suhren, a Wake Forest recruit, consistenly grinding out yardage while dominating time of possession, especially in the second half.
Ardrey Kell’s defense was also dominant at the line of scrimmage, holding the Mustangs to 32 rushing yards on 19 carries. Myers Park quarterback Jack Davidson completed 18-of- 35 passes for 168 yards and one touchdown, but the Mustangs had trouble finding the end zone after long drives.
Ardrey Kell’s first scoring drive came in the second quarter as the Knights drove 84 yards in 10 plays with quarterback Bryce Maginley running through a huge hole behind Suhren to score from 6 yards. The Mustangs scored late in the first half as Tyler Dameron kicked a 27-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3 at halftime.
The Knights put together a 10-play, 88-yard drive late in the third quarter with Haston scoring from 19 yards. After recovering a muffed punt, Myers Park cut the lead to 14-9 as Davidson found Cooper Hearn on an 18-yard slant for the touchdown.
But Ardrey Kell’s powerful running game sealed it as the Knights took the ensuing kickoff and drove 71 yards in 14 plays with Haston crossing the goal line from 8 yards.
Quote: “We played two great quarters last week (against Weddington). Tonight, we played four. This week our guys had the pride to finish it out.” - Ardrey Kell coach Joe Evans.
“We’ve got to do a better job on first down, both stopping the run and running the ball ourselves. First downs have killed us in both games.” - Myers Park coach Scott Chadwick.
Records: Myers Park 1-1, 0-0, Ardrey Kell 1-1, 0-0
Worth mentioning: The Mustangs thought they had scored first when Davidson pushed his way forward on a quarterback sneak from one yard. Davidson actually flipped the ball to an official, thinking he had scored. Myers Park was assessed a 15-yard penalty for arguing the call and a fourth-and- goal pass from the 16 sailed wide, thwarting a drive that had covered 69 yards in 14 plays.
Ardrey Kell coach Joe Evans, on his team’s final drive, went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Knights’ 49 when a stop would have given the Mustangs excellent field position. But Maginley tossed a 7-yard strike to Jaylen Erwin to sustain the drive and preserve the win.
What’s Next: Ardrey Kell hosts Marvin Ridge. Myers Park will face Providence at Memorial Stadium.