The fifth try finally turned out to be the charm for Charlotte Catholic’s football team.
Thwarted in their past four trips to the finals, the Cougars broke through Saturday night, beating Greenville Rose 27-20 at BB&T Field to claim their first N.C. 4A state championship trophy.
Jaret Anderson ran for 193 yards and three touchdowns, including a 14-yarder with 50 seconds remaining to put Catholic ahead to stay.
Anderson also scored on runs of 32 and 1 yards, and was named the championship game’s most valuable player as the Cougars won the school’s fourth state title and first since 2005.
But the real star for Catholic was its defense, which made two key stops in the fourth quarter with the game still in the balance.
With the game tied at 20, the Cougars dropped Rose’s Cornell Powell for a 3-yard loss on 4th-and-goal at the 1-foot line early in the quarter.
After its own drive was stopped on downs inside Rampants territory, Catholic made another key stop on 4th-and-short at Rose’s own 31 yard line. That stop set up the Cougars’ game winning drive.
However, things didn’t start off so great for Catholic, which gave up a 90-yard touchdown return by Powell on the opening kickoff for a 7-0 Ramparts lead.
But the Cougars got back into the game quickly in the first quarter.
A muffed Rose punt set up a trick-play 16-yard TD pass from Jonathan Newton to John Walton with 8:41 left, and Anderson had his first TD run nearly 3 1/2 minutes later for a 13-7 Catholic lead.
After being held to just nine total yards in the first quarter, Rose got its offense going in the second quarter. Powell’s 1-yard TD toss to Mydron Vines with 6:04 remaining capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive, and put the Rampants ahead 14-13 at the halftime break.
Records: Greenville Rose 12-3, Charlotte Catholic 15-0.
Worth mentioning: Entering Saturday’s game, Rose had a 5-1 record in state finals, while Catholic was 3-4. The Rampants won 4A titles in 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003 and 1975, while losing in 1979. The Cougars won 3AA titles in 2005 and 2004, and the 2A title in 1977, while losing in 3AA title games in 2012, 2007 and 2006, and in the 4A final last year.