The Ardrey Kell Knights ran their winning streak to six games with a 38-14 win over the West Mecklenburg Hawks Friday night at West Meck.
The win allowed the Knights, No. 15 in the Sweet 16, to remain undefeated in the SoMECK 7 conference and set up a showdown with Olympic next week.
“We were happy to get another conference win,” said Ardrey Kell coach Greg Jachym. “Any conference win in our conference is a good one. This (West Meck) is a really good team, but our guys found ways to make plays tonight and we found a way to close it out.”
Ardrey Kell quarterback Jared Joseph threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns of 42, 67 and 92 yards while going 14-of-22. Joseph also ran 12 yards for a score.
The recipients of Joseph’s TD tosses were North Carolina commit Cedric Gray (67 and 92 yards) and Michael Hetzel with a 42-yard TD catch.
“It’s all by instinct you know and everything’s happening so fast,” said Gray talking about his two long TD catches. “Putting the work in all week and all summer and just stepping up to the moment.”
West Meck quarterback J’Mari Taylor, a former Charlotte Observer prep football player of the week, did all he could to keep West Meck in the game. Taylor ran a whopping 30 times for 144 yards, and scored on a 2-yard run whilw also throwing a 9-yard TD pass to Willie Hopper to account for all 14 of the Hawks’ points.
West Meck only trailed Ardrey Kell 21-14 at the break as Taylor threw a touchdown pass to Hopper on the final play of the first half.
But midway through the third quarter the Knights scored 10 points in a 32-second span. First Gray hauled in the first of his two touchdowns (67 yards) to allow Ardrey Kell to take a 28-14 advantage.
On West Meck’s next offensive play, Ardrey Kell recovered a fumble at the Hawks’ 9-yard line and had a first-and-goal. But three consecutive incomplete passes to the end zone forced the Knights to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Jackson Price to increase their lead to 31-14.
The Hawks then put together a nice 13-play drive on their next possession and drove to the Ardrey Kell 7-yard line with a first-and-goal. But the drive stalled as West Meck couldn’t get into the end zone.
“Everybody’s excited and we try to keep the kids focused on one game at a time, one week at a time and one day at a time,” said Jachym on the Knights’ six-game winning streak. “We just want to keep doing what we’ve been doing day in and day out, putting the work in, not getting ahead of ourselves and doing the little things the right way.”
RECORDS: Ardrey Kell (6-1) West Meck (3-3)
THREE WHO MATTERED:
Jared Joseph, Ardrey Kell: Senior quarterback took control offensively, throwing for 333 yards and three touchdowns while also running for a score.
Cedric Gray, Ardrey Kell: Senior wide receiver made two big splash plays with TD catches of 67 and 92 yards while making life miserable for the West Meck secondary.
J’Mari Taylor, West Meck: Senior running back has been forced to take over at quarterback due to the injury to Hawks’ starting QB Zaire Kennedy. Friday Taylor was the focus of the West Meck offense with 30 rushes for 144 yards and a touchdown while also throwing a TD pass.
THEY SAID IT
“Jared, (Joseph) I love that dude. He’s been balling out all season. He’s a great leader, makes the right reads.” Ardrey Kell wide receiver Cedric Gray talking about Knights’ senior quarterback Jared Joseph.
West Meck’s starting quarterback Zaire Kennedy, who’s been out of the Hawks’ lineup due to injury, tried to give it a go at the start of the game but only played one series before aggravating the same injury.
After yielding 14 points first-half points, the Ardrey Kell defense shut out the Hawks in the second half.
WHAT’S NEXT: Ardrey Kell and West Meck will both be in action next Friday. The Knights will be looking to extend its winning streak to 7 games by hosting Olympic, while West Meck will also be at home to take on Phillip O. Berry.
1Q AK – Henry Bowen 2 run; (Jackson Price kick)
WM – J’Mari Taylor 2 run; (Arlin Morazan–Gonzales kick)
AK – Jared Joseph 12 run; (Price kick)
AK – Michael Hetzel 42 pass from Joseph; (Price kick)
WM – Willie Hopper 9 pass from Taylor; (Morazan-Gonzales kick)
AK – Cedric Gray 67 pass from Joseph;(Price kick)
AK – Price 21-yard field goal
AK – Gray 92 pass from Joseph; (Price kick)