Charlotte Catholic took advantage of early miscues by West Mecklenburg to put Friday night’s 45-26 victory out of reach by halftime.
The Cougars, who led 38-12 at the break, forced two fumbles and recovered an onside kick in the first quarter to jump out to a 31-6 lead eight minutes before halftime.
The Cougars’ defense put Catholic on top on the first play from scrimmage when linebacker Connor Miller scooped up a West Meck fumble and raced 20 yards into the end zone. The Hawks also fumbled on their second series, and the Cougars led 10-0 less than three minutes into the game following a field goal by Marco Baeza on the ensuing possession.
Catholic coach Mike Brodowicz said forcing takeaways was one his team’s priorities coming into the game.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
“We haven’t gotten a turnover for the last couple weeks,” Brodowicz said. “We said, ‘Let’s hope we can get some turnovers to get our offense some easy scores and shorten the field.’ ”
West Meck’s Domo Williams cut the Cougars’ lead to 10-7 with a 99-yard touchdown on a kickoff return, but Catholic pulled away with touchdown drives on four of its next five possessions.
The Cougars’ Wing-T attack kept the West Meck guessing and appeared to wear down the Hawks, who gave up just a field goal on Catholic’s first two drives. Three different backs – Colton Perry, Nicholas, Rizzieri and Ryan Miller – scored first-half rushing touchdowns.
By halftime, five different players had between at least two rushing attempts, with Jaret Anderson leading the way with 58 yards on seven carries.
“That’s what we do here,” Brodowicz said. “That’s why we continue to run this offense. The talent that we have on our team, the backs that we have, we feel like we can keep all these guys fresh and in the fourth quarter, these guys only have 10 or 12 carries, and that’s to our advantage.”
West Meck freshman quarterback Dyami Brown scrambled for two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter, the second a 22-yarder with less than a minute to play.