MINT HILL, NC – The 2022 High School Football season began on Friday night under the lights at Independence. The home team flashing new gold jerseys played a solid football game against a good opponent.
The boys from Indy showed they have good athletes, some explosive playmakers, team speed, more discipline, much improved special teams, a kicking game, and are learning how to finish a game under head football coach DJ McFadden and the coaching staff.
The Patriots scored first on their second possession after a blocked punt by Tyree Glenn gave Indy excellent field position. Three plays later on a third down and short yardage situation, QB Justin Little took the snap and found wide receiver Jaylen Springs breaking away down the sidelines over the Bulldog corner for the 22 yard touchdown pass. Indy’s new kicker Lyric Kopera powered the ball through the uprights for the extra point and a 7-0 early lead.
In the second period after a nice drive by the Patriot offense stalled leaving a fourth down and 11 situation, Kopera a new found weapon the team desperately missed last season connected on a 38 yard field goal attempt to give the home team a 10-0 advantage.
The Bulldogs from Concord have some playmakers themselves, and highly recruited Daevin Hobbs found a seam to get himself open, QB Isaac Lee dropped back scrambled to the right hashmark and tossed a perfect pass catching Hobbs in full stride and it was off to the races. Hobbs turned on the afterburners and rumbled into the end zone untouched by the Patriot defense. Robinson elected to go for a two point conversion, Lee and Hobbs connected again in the corner of the end zone making the score 10-8.
Indy responded finishing a drive that began on their own 21 yard line. A pass reception from Little to Kamorrie Prather for 19 yards, Austin Cowick on a screen pass picked up 9 yards, Little with a QB keeper picked up the first down. RB Sincere McIntyre rumbled for another Patriot first down to the 28 yard line. Coleton Belcher connected with Little for an 8 yard pass reception to the 20. Then with 24.7 seconds remaining in the half, Little would locate Springs inside the 5 yard line hitting the WR in stride for the touchdown. Kopera split the uprights and Indy had a 17-8 halftime lead.
At this point in the contest the game appeared to be an evenly matched football game with Indy clearly having and edge on the scoreboard. However, the final outcome was uncertain especially with the potentially explosive passing offense of the visiting Bulldogs.
This concern occurred after Indy punter Diego Barahona made an outstanding punt placing the ball on the Bulldog 4 yard line giving the defense the opportunity to pin their opponent down deep inside their own territory. But the explosiveness of Robinson’s aerial attack showed up big time. Isaac connected on a 26 yard reception, then from his 30 yard line he found Hobbs again for a 65 yard catch and run, but could not break a tackle from Joseph Reddish or would have gone the distance. After a touchdown pass was negated by an illegal lineman downfield penalty, Isaac hands off to Hobbs who barrels his way for the 15 yard touchdown. The PAT is good making the score 17-15 at the end of three quarters.
However, Indy took control of this football game in the 4th quarter dominating the Bulldogs and showing they have matured and are learning how to finish a football game. The defense was solid, safety Joseph Reddish showed his senior leadership and game awareness when he knocked down a 42 yard pass to Hobbs he could have intercepted inside the 10 yard line. This play gave the Patriots good field position for the offense to begin a scoring drive of their own.
With 7:44 remaining in the game, Indy would put together a 70 yard drive when Little connected with Crowder for a 25 yard gain, then a QB keeper for 42 yards, the Indy offensive line was blowing the Bulldogs off the line of scrimmage and Sincere McIntyre scampered for 20 yards, however, a holding call negates the gain, followed by an 8 yard loss. Then on a second and long, little connected with Cowick for a 43 yard touchdown reception, the PAT was good by Kopera, Indy now had a 24-15 edge with 5:02 remaining.
The Indy defense held again, the big play was made by Joshua Iseah with a QB sack and fumble recovery with 3:06 on the scoreboard clock giving the Patriots excellent field position. Indy RB Shaun Soloman would take the handoff from the 10 yard line, break a tackle and charge into the end zone standing up to secure the victory making the score 31-15 with another PAT splitting the uprights.
With the clock running out on the Bulldogs, QB Lee was sacked for a safety by a swarming Patriot defense with 21.7 seconds remaining to complete the victory 33-15. Indy will take on Marvin Ridge next Friday night at home with a 7pm kickoff in seeking their second win of the young season. Indy lost last year at Marvin Ridge and would like to return the favor.