High School Sports

Interception seals biggest win for Hough

With his team in overtime on the road against the No. 1 team in the Observer’s Sweet 16, Hough coach Miles Aldridge thought about going for it all on fourth and goal from the Mallard Creek 1.

“You always think about it,” Aldridge said after the No 7 Huskies claimed one of their biggest wins in the school’s short football history, a 31-28 thriller over the Mavericks.

“But our defense had played well and we decided to play the odds.”

Not a bad choice. Junior kicker Zach Stearns, who had made — then missed — a game-winning field goal try in a bizarre ending to regulation, drilled an 18-yarder. Then Hough senior defensive back Marquill Osborne made a leaping interception of a James Smith pass in the end zone on the second play of Mallard Creek’s possession to seal the victory.

It was a wild finish to a game that was close throughout. Mallard Creek, which led 14-7 at halftime, appeared to have scored a breakthrough touchdown when Smith passed to wide receiver Javon Harbison for a 45-yard score for a 21-14 lead late in the third quarter.

But Hough came right back on a 59-yard touchdown run by running back Rashad Williams, who carried 25 times for 154 yards

After the teams traded fourth-quarter scores, the Huskies ended regulation with a march to the Mallard Creek 26. Stearns easily made a 43-yard field goal attempt to apparently win the game, but the play had been ruled dead on an offsides penalty on the Mavericks.

Stearns was wide left from 38 yards on the re-kick as time ran out.

“Our defense played well early and kept us in the game,” Aldridge said. “It’s a great win for us, but it just means we beat Mallard Creek. We have four more games against good teams left on our (regular season) schedule.

Quote: “Penalties killed us and our defense gave up too many big plays. They did everything better than we did. We just got beat by a good football team in a good football game.” — Mallard Creek coach Mike Palmieri.

“We got a little out of whack for a while in the second half, but we got a second wind. Being close and having a chance to win always energizes you.” — Hough coach Miles Aldridge.

Records: Hough 6-1, 2-0 MECKA 4A; Mallard Creek 6-2, 2-1

Worth mentioning: Palmieri pointed to 10 penalties for 86 yards as a factor in the loss, but none was bigger than a 10-yard holding penalty on the Mavericks overtime possession that preceded the long toss by Smith into the end zone…Hough kicker Stearns entered the game having hit 5-of-7 field goals on the season.

What’s Next: Hough plays A.L. Brown in Kannapolis at 7:30 p.m. Friday in a MECKA 4A game. Mallard Creek is at Vance at 7 p.m. Friday, also in MECKA 4A action.