After starting the season at 1-2 and with football expectations always high at Independence, the Patriots and their first-year coach Justin Hardin delighted their fans with a 20-6 come-from-behind victory over the West Meck Hawks Friday at Independence.
Trailing 6-0 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Patriots marched down the field and rode running back Quantavious McGill (five carries and 65 yards on the 74-yard drive) to set up their first score.
A 16-yard TD pass from Indy quarterback Christian McPhail to wide receiver Cederick Stone plus the extra-point kick by Ryan Brush proved to be the winning points for Independence.
“First I want to give a shout out to my O-line, that’s what did it,” said McGill. “I’m the guy who gets mad at everybody and tries to boost their confidence up, and I was getting mad. After that we just started clicking.”
After zero turnovers by both teams in the first half, the teams combined for six second-half giveaways as a rainstorm hit and caused havoc with ball security. West Meck had four of the six turnovers including a 90-yard Indy interception by Stone that went for a Patriots’ touchdown.
After taking the 7-6 lead, the Patriots recovered a Hawks’ fumble and looked to add some insurance late in the fourth quarter. Faced with fourth and five at the West Meck 16, Independence made a gutsy call by passing and not running. McPhail found Elijah Small in the corner of the end zone for a TD and the Patriots increased their lead to 14-6 with 1:44 left.
“We saw a mismatch and I told the guys I want to take a shot,” said Hardin. “To make a play like that on fourth and five, it’s a big play in the ball game.”
QUOTE: “I’m still waiting for us to click in all three phases, and we haven’t done that yet. We’re very capable and we can be as good as we want to be. But we can’t beat ourselves, we can’t have penalties, and we can’t have mistakes on third down. I’m still very excited about this program and where we are.” Independence coach Justin Hardin assessing his team through the first four games.
WORTH MENTIONING: After giving up 90 points in its first two games (both losses), Independence has only given up nine points in its last two games (both wins).
▪ DJ Davis was the leading rusher for West Meck with 54 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown.
RECORDS: West Meck (2-1, 0-0), Independence (2-2, 0-0)
WHAT’S NEXT: West Meck is off next Friday and returns to action Friday, September 25 hosting Ardrey Kell. The Patriots will travel to Vance next Friday to play the Cougars.