By Ron Morris
According to head coach Joe Evans his Independence Patriots didn’t open the playoffs with one of their best starts. However, the finish was more than enough to make up for their sluggish first half start as the Patriots beat the Olympic Trojans 35-0 at Independence High School Friday night in the first round of the state football playoffs.
The Patriots received the opening kickoff but were unable to move the ball and had to punt. After getting the ball back, the Patriots’ Qunatavious McGill carried the ball for a twenty yard gain. On the next play McGill went off tackle for a 45 yard touchdown run giving the Patriots an early 7-0 lead with 8:26 left in the first quarter.
For the rest of the first half, neither team could get any offense going. According to Coach Evans his team looked sluggish in the first half saying that he didn’t know if it was the big win over Butler or if it was the bitter cold weather. However, the Patriots got their second score with 43 seconds left in the first half when AJ Peal ran for a 4 yard touchdown giving the Patriots a 14-0 half time lead.The only score in the third quarter came on Indy’s first possession when Kelvin Hopkins hit Jamar Jenkins for a 64 yard touchdown pass making the score 21-0 with 8:07 left in the quarter.
Independence had another strong defensive effort. They scored their seventh shutout for the season and came up with a defensive touchdown. With 10:51 left in the game Olympic quarterback Jeremiah Dorsey dropped back to pass. The pass was tipped by Indy’s Preston Lockwood who made a diving interception in the end zone for the score.
By Ron Morris
Last Friday night, two teams about six miles apart met in the second round of the NCHSAA 4AA playoffs: Butler and Independence. It was a home game for Butler, but since their stadium can’t hold the expected numbers, the game was at Memorial Stadium in Charlotte.
This was the second time in three weeks that these two teams met, the first time being to decide the winner of the SW4A regular season conference. Butler came out on top during the first meeting, and Indy was hoping to change the outcome this time.
Friday nights’ game between Independence and the host South Meck Sabres took a while to get action going on either side of the ball. Both teams went scoreless in the first quarter. It was not seconds into the second quarter when, Patriots QB Jason Connella connected with his favorite wide out, Dequan Barnes for an 18 yard touchdown catch. Indy went up first, seven to zero at 11:09 left in the second quarter. About three minutes later, Connella kept the ball and ran it 16 yards for the second score of the night for Indy. The extra point was good, and the Patriots were up 14-0 with 8:08 minutes left in the first half.
Defense makes big plays
Senior Jack Tocho made some big plays in the next possession of the ball by South. Tocho made an open field tackle that prevented the Sabres from scoring and also intercepted a pass in the end zone to stop South as they marched down the field into Indy territory.
Barnes would get one more look from Conella before the end of the half. This time, he caught a five yard TD pass with 19 seconds to go before the half. The extra point was no good but Indy led 20-0 at halftime. It would take Independence almost five minutes before they were able to score in the third quarter. Connella looked Barnes’ way again and threw him a 65-yard TD pass. The score is: Indy 27, South Meck 0. Almost four minutes later the Connella-Barnes duo connected again, this time with 29-yard TD pass in the third quarter. The Patriot defense had two more big plays during the next two possessions of the ball by South. Defensive back Deion Washington saved an open field TD run by bringing down the Sabre ball carrier, stopping him on the Independence 14 yard line. Senior LB Chris Turpin put an end to the Sabre drive when he intercepted a pass.