Usually when a first-year team takes the field, the deck can be stacked against them. Lack of experience together and lack of senior leadership are among those factors. The Copperheads exuded very little of that tonight in their 19-12 win over visiting Stuart Cramer. They are now 2-0 on the season.
Neither team was able to get on the board in the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Copperheads were able to strike first. A fumble by the Storm put the Copperheads in great field position and they would make them pay with a 28-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Harrison Wilson to Quinten Jackson. Ayden McCarter’s extra point kick made it 7-0. But the Storm would respond from that early punch in the gut with a scoring drive of their own. Quarterback Eja Brice connected with Jonathan Brooks for a 26-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was blocked however.
The Copperheads started to show their youth from that point forward. Wilson would be intercepted by the Storm’s Dayton Richardson on their next drive. He would take it 34 yards for another Stuart Cramer touchdown. The two-point conversion run was thwarted however. On the ensuing kickoff, the Copperheads would muff a squib kick that Cramer recovered near the Copperhead 40-yard line. The Storm were unable to capitalize as they would fumble it right back to them before the half. The score remained 12-7 in favor of the storm.
In the second half, things started coming apart for Stuart Cramer. Penalties, missed snaps, short fields for Catawba Ridge and a failure to convert on a key fourth down would prove to be costly. A 34-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback, Kayden Hager to Quinten Jackson put the Copperheads back on top. The PAT failed however. The Copperheads extended the lead later in the third quarter with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Harrison Wilson to Jacobie Henderson. The kick was blocked.
The Catawba Ridge defense was able to keep the Stuart Cramer offense from putting together a scoring drive in the second half. With less than two minutes to go on their own ten-yard line. Kayden Hager was able to rip off a 25-yard run to the 35 yard line which sealed the deal for the Copperheads.
“We weren’t as prepared as we could be and that starts with me.” said Stuart Cramer head coach Ben McMillan “We made too many mistakes with the football, had too many penalties and too many other things. Early on, we turned the ball over. We gave them momentum and gave them a short field.”
When asked about playing East Gaston next week McMillan said “I’m just concerned about us. We will prepare for them but we have got to get better. It’s not who you play but how you play.”
“I could not be more proud of our guys coming into this situation as young as we are.” said Catawba Ridge head coach Zac Lendyak “I told them in the locker room at half-time we wanted to see the adversity. We wanted to be down. We wanted to be in that situation to see what they had and they proved to me tonight that they are a bunch of football players.”
“There was a four minute stretch there where I thought this might be going the wrong way. I told them in there that we are going to get our breaks. We just got to be in position to capitalize on them and we knew it was going to come back to us and when those breaks came our way, we took advantage of them.”
“So in two games, our defense has given up a total of six points and that’s a bunch of freshmen, sophomores and some juniors mixed in there.” Lendyak said “That defense only has three juniors on it. So to do that, that’s very impressive. They keep us in the games. We preach that. We say ‘offense, our job is to capitalize.’ Defense keeps us in there and we try to do what we can do to get those points on the board and we were able to do that tonight.”
Catawba Ridge (2-0) will be home again to face Charlotte Latin (2-0). Stuart Cramer (1-1) will host East Gaston (0-1).