A scary first quarter for Independence’s football team quickly turned into a 37-7 rout for the Patriots in Huntersville Friday night. A fumbled handoff on Indy’s first play from scrimmage led to a turnover and the Vikings quickly capitalized, taking a 7-0 lead. On the next series, starting quarterback Evan Guest left the game with muscle spasms. From then on, both the offense and defense for Independence stepped up and the game was over by halftime.
Backup quarterback Jason Connella played as if he were a four-year starter, using his mobility to move the chains and put the North Meck defense on its toes.When the Vikings were keying on the junior’s feet, Connella found three receivers for touchdowns. The backup QB went 10 for 13 and 135 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
“[Connella] did a heck of a job,” said Patriot Head Coach Bill Geiler. “Here’s the thing, he and Evan [Guest] get equal reps in practice. I could start either one of them. Everyone takes a chance on the field. We tell the kids ‘You’re only a sprained ankle away from having to jump in there.’”
Connella’s biggest score was a 53 yard strike to Austin Duke. RJ Baker, Dequan Barnes, and Isiah Robinson all had touchdowns for Independence as well.
Jack Tocho, a junior defensive back, scored on a 50-yard kickoff return after a Patriot safety. After the game, he talked more about his defensive unit’s performance than his touchdown.
“In the first game we were a little too hyped, and our energy was down. This game against North, though, we took it by storm and we held our own.”
Senior wide receiver Justin Petty went down with a lower-leg injury after making a reception in the second quarter. His return this season is questionable.
Kicker and varsity soccer player Morgan Boyle had four kickoffs go into the end-zone for touchbacks. Boyle also recorded a touchdown saving tackle on a kickoff in the second quarter.
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