Kannapolis A.L. Brown football coach Mike Newsome can already claim two wins in the annual “Battle for the Bell” game against Concord.
Now Newsome has a third – and it came on the Spiders’ home field.
A.L. Brown’s defense came up big against Concord on Thursday night, leading to a 31-19 season-opening victory at Concord’s Robert C. Bailey Stadium.
The Wonders’ defense forced four turnovers, three of which led to touchdowns, and held the Spiders to negative rushing yardage.
Concord, ranked No. 6 in the preseason Sweet 16 poll, finished with minus-47 rushing yards, with the Wonders registering six sacks of Spiders quarterback Larkin Lancaster.
It more than helped an A.L Brown offense that lost two of its key players in the first half.
Starting quarterback Cordarius Butler went down with a broken leg midway through the second quarter, and lead running back Jahia Mahatha missed the second half.
Butler was hurt chasing down a fumbled snap, which Concord’s Ja’Nai Spratt returned 37 yards for a score to put the Spiders up 13-7.
The Wonders twice took advantage of Concord fumbles deep in their own territory in the second quarter, with Mahatha scoring on runs of 1 and 3 yards over a 107-second span to give A.L. Brown a 21-13 halftime lead.
With Mahatha out in the second half, the Spiders had their chances to trim the Wonders’ lead.
After Brian Gutierrez’s 26-yard field goal put A.L. Brown up 24-13, an 83-yard punt return by Justin Nicholson pulled Concord within 24-19 with 7 minutes, 34 seconds left.
But the Wonders’ defense stopped the Spiders on downs, then Brandon Dry came up with a 30-yard pick-6 with 1:18 remaining to seal A.L. Brown’s win.
Records: A.L. Brown 1-0, Concord 0-1.
Worth mentioning: Mahatha, named the game’s most valuable player, finished with 45 rushing yards for the Wonders. … Butler went 3-for-4 passing for 13 yards in the first half, including a 5-yard TD pass to Lewis Harris. … Lancaster finished with 175 yards passing on 16-of-24 attempts, with one interception and a 60-yard TD completion to P.J. Hall early in the second quarter. … Hall was Concord’s only effective running threat, with 40 yards on nine carries.
What’s next: A.L. Brown will play its home opener next Friday, hosting South Rowan, and Concord will play the second of four consecutive home games Friday against Albemarle.
A.L. Brown 31, No. 6 Concord 19
A.L. Brown 7 14 0 10 -- 31
Concord 0 13 0 6 -- 19
ALB—Lewis Harris 5 pass from Cordarius Butler (Brian Gutierrez kick), 5:08.
C—P.J. Hall 60 pass from Larkin Lancaster (Landon Trott kick), 9:03.
C—Ja’Nai Spratt 37 fumble return (pass failed), 7:51.
ALB—Jahia Mahatha 1 run (Gutierrez kick), 6:03
ALB—Mahatha 3 run (Gutierrez kick), 4:17.
ALB—Gutierrez 26 FG, 10:04.
C—Justin Nicholson 83 punt return (pass failed), 7:34.
ALB—Brandon Dry 30 interception return (Gutierrez kick), 1:18.