Indy Wins 1st Round NCHSAA Football Championship Game 41-13

Indy TE William Brown runs over defenders. (All photos by Ron Morris)
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MINT HILL, NC – The Independence Patriots won their first round tournament football game of the 2022 NCHSAA State Championship with a decisive 41-13 victory over Page High School from Greensboro, NC on Friday night at the “Big I.”

Joe Moraglia gains extra yardage after a big catch.

From the opening kick-off the Patriots defense seemed a little off their usual dominating style of play. They allowed a QB Keeper on a long 3rd down for a first down to burst into a huge hole to be tackled around mid-field by the safety to prevent a touchdown. The defense did come up big when Quentin Reddish intercepted a pass on the Patriots 25 yard line.

Emmanuel Teah TD extending Indy’s lead to 41-13.

The Pats offense led by QB Justin Little took possession. Sincere McIntyre scampered for 6, Indy moved the ball to the 35 for their initial first down. Emmanuel Teah who has been the workhorse lately picked up 7 yards, added 4 more for a Patriots first down. On 1st down  QB Little found Jaylen Springs streaking on a fly pattern as he beat the safety by 2 full strides, caught a perfectly thrown pass for a 54 yard touchdown fully in stride. The PAT was good by Charlie Gottlieb, Indy had a 7-0 lead only 4 minutes into the football game.

Khalil Hoke with timely fumble recovery.

However, the Indy defense continued to have a shaky start in the early going of this football game. They allowed a long 61 yard QB Keeper by Jarren Blackwell to the 5 yard line. The defense stiffened, but allowed Blackwell to score the tying touchdown on 4th and goal from the 1. The game is now tied 7-7 with 5:06 on the scoreboard clock remaining in the first quarter.

The Pats received the kick-off, on the first play Joe Moraglia caught a pass from Little for an Indy 1st down. With the ball on their own 45, Little connected with Springs down to the Page 35 yard line for another 1st down. The next big play for yardage was to Moraglia to the 7 yard line, a 24 yard reception. Little then scored his first rushing touchdown when he dashed off tackle into the end zone untouched giving the Patriots a 14-7 lead as Gottlieb drilled the PAT.

The momentum switch turned on for the Patriots on a second pass interception stalling a drive by the visiting Pirates with an athletic interception made by Tyree Glenn. On the first play from scrimmage, Little located Indy TE William Brown for 31 yards to the 45. The next critical play on 3rd down and long, Little spotted Brown again for a 25 yard gain to the 12 yard line. After a holding penalty, the ball on the 17 yard line, Little found Brian Crowder open in the end zone for a touchdown. The PAT was good by Gottlieb, Indy now led 21-7.

The Indy defense stepped up once again. Two consecutive QB sacks made first by Khalil Hoke, followed by Josh Iseah forced a punt with 54.8 seconds remaining in the second half. Most of the crowd thought Indy was going to rush the football and run out the clock. But the unpredictable head coach DJ McFadden had other ideas even deep in his own territory. He called a pass play, Little successfully executes a well run pass pattern by Springs open down the middle to 38 yard line for a 1st down. On the next play Little connects with a wide open Joe Moraglia who found a gap in the secondary for a 50 yard reception to the 11 yard line. On the next play, Little scampered into the end zone for his second rushing touchdown. Daniel Locklear who recently returned off the injury list, kicked the extra point. The Patriots now had a 28-7 halftime advantage with only 16 seconds remaining.

In the second half, Indy struck first to put this game completely out of reach while the defense now dominated inside the trenches and controlled the line of scrimmage. Indy put together a nifty scoring strike from their own 40 yard line. A 40 yard pass and catch play from Little to Moraglia, capped off on a 19 yard touchdown reception to TE Will Brown with 9:45 remaining in the 3rd quarter. The PAT was blocked, but Indy has amassed a huge 34-7 commanding lead in this matchup.

The third turnover by the Pirates occurred on a fumble forced by the Patriots defense was recovered by Keegan Queeglay on the 10 yard line to kill another Page drive. The 3rd quarter ended with the score unchanged at 34-7.

In the final quarter, the Pirates would put together a very time consuming 67 yard drive. It took the visitors almost 6 minutes to matriculate the football down field. They picked up four first downs along the way, but Indy was basically playing containment at this point in the game. The Pirates did take advantage of their opportunity converting on two 4th down situations. They finally scored after an Indy offside penalty spotting the ball on the 1 yard line. Page rushed for the touchdown making the score 34-13 as the extra point went wide.

Indy scored again after Khalil Hoke recovered a fumble on the Page 25 yard line with 3:38 remaining. This was the games fourth turnover forced by the opportunist Patriot defense. Teah rumbled for 14 yards, then rushed for 2 more, another 2, and on 3rd down carried the ball to the Page 2 yard line. On 1st down he would pound the football into the end zone standing up for a 41-13 dominating first round victory for the Patriots.

This victory did not come without some agony. Indy RB Sincere McIntyre sustained an injury, RB Shaun Soloman did not play while healing a shoulder injury, and DB Warren Bryant was injured and did not return. Three key contributors to the team all season long. However, the PATS have depth, and only time will tell how all this flushes out.

Meanwhile, the Patriots 10-1 will host the 11-0 Olympic High School Trojans next week at home on Friday night. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 pm and this should be a good matchup. Come out and support your Independence Patriots and enjoy some exciting high school playoff football.

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Ed Berti
Ed is retired and remains active as a freelance writer, local journalist and independent contractor. He is engaged in print and electronic media writing stories covering business, sports, hometown news and veteran's affairs including articles of interest to various media outlets. Ed is a graduate of Wagner College where he earned an MBA and holds a BBA from Pace University.
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