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It didn’t take long for Independence to strike in the first round of the state 4AA playoffs Saturday. After receiving the opening kick, quarterback Anthony Carrothers hit Avius Capers on passes of 16, 22 and 20 yards in less than a minute. The last throw was the first of three touchdown passes for Carrothers as the Patriots cruised to a 41-18 win over West Meck. It was the type of play coach Tom Knotts expects from his junior quarterback.

“He’s having a great year,” Knotts said. “I’ve learned to live with the fact he’s going to make some bad decisions, but he’s a great player.”

Photos by Roger Harding rahpix.com

Carrothers was 13-20 for 233 yards and three touchdowns, almost all of it coming in the first half. On the second series, the Independence offense needed just four plays to score the second touchdown of the game, a 29 yard strike to Sebastian Green. Carrothers and Harold Blythe ran for a touchdown a piece in the first half, as the Patriots jumped out to a 34-12 lead.

The big lead allowed Knotts to play his second string for most of the second half and giving most of his starters a rest.

“We’ve gotten real thin all the sudden and we’re trying to play some guys in some new spots,” Knotts said.

West Meck got off to an impressive start, driving the length of the field on two of its first three drives, but could only come away with six points.

“They did about what we expected them to do,” Knotts said. “I was pretty pleased the way we played in the first half.”

The wind and cold slowed play in the second half as both teams had trouble hanging onto the ball. Aaron Glover recorded two sacks for the defense, and Jaylan Harden rushed four times for 20 yards and a touchdown.

The win sets up a rematch Friday night against East Mecklenburg at Independence.