South Mecklenburg coach Rocky White worried his team might have a “hangover” from last week’s loss to rival Charlotte Catholic. He was right.
The Sabres had to overcome a slow start to win 20-19 on the road against Olympic in a SoMeck 8 game Friday night.
“We worried about that all week,” White said. “We were lackadaisical all week, just trying to get over the hangover, man. It’s new territory for these guys.
“You could tell tonight we just didn’t have that energy. But we challenged them at the half and they came back and did what they had to do, so I’m proud of them.”
Olympic (3-6, 1-4) took a 19-6 lead on a 19-yard pass from Jeremiah Dorsey to Torry Baker with 5 minutes, 43 seconds left in the third quarter.
South Meck (7-2, 4-1) answered with two touchdowns in the next five minutes – a 13-yard pass from Tyshawn Carter to Stephen Griffin and a 2-yard run by defensive lineman Zack Gilbert – to take the 20-19 lead.
The Sabres made two key stops in the fourth quarter to preserve the win, including when Griffin broke through the line to tackle Olympic running back Marquis Robinson, who had 24 carries for 134 yards, on 4th-and-1 from the South Meck 30 with 6 minutes left in the game.
“That’s what we’ve done all year,” White said. “If we needed to be picked up, the defense picked us up, special teams picked us up. ... We’ve been timely this year and we did that again tonight. All three phases weren’t strong tonight but we were strong enough to get the ‘W.’ ”
Special teams gave South Meck a 6-0 lead in the first quarter.
AJ Elam and Moryah Johnson each blocked a punt in the first half. The Sabres couldn’t take advantage of the good field position, though, and settled for Jonathan Doerer field goals of 32 and 36 yards.
“We get two blocked punts and get nothing out of it except for field goals,” White said. “You’re not going to win against a team like this kicking field goals.”
An interception by Olympic’s Savion Martin set up the Trojans’ first score of the game, a 1-yard keeper by Dorsey that tied the game at 6 after a missed extra point.
The Trojans took a 12-6 lead into halftime when DJ Hobbs scooped up a fumble by South Meck quarterback Antonio Wallace inside the Sabres’ 20-yard-line and ran it back for a touchdown. The two-point conversion failed.
White said the way the Sabres competed in the second half exemplified the “New South.”
“These guys are learning, man,” White said. “But one thing these guys do is they have no quit in them. ... The ‘New South’ is creating a culture where you compete, never quit and that’s what these guys believe right now.”