MINT HILL, NC – The Independence Patriots won their second consecutive home game with a 28-14 victory over Marvin Ridge on Friday night under the lights.
Coach DJ McFadden’s crew played solid football throughout the contest and won the battle in the trenches against a solid football team from Union County. Indy’s athleticism, quickness to the football, balanced offense, overall noticeably improved discipline and tackling have made a huge difference in the teams good start this season.
After the initial kickoff during the first quarter both teams seemed to be sparring with one another as they exchanged possessions after picking up several first downs with the drives stalling. After Indy QB Justin Little fumbled, the Mavericks recovered the football on their own 43 yard line. But the Patriots defense stepped up and forced a punt. The Indy offense took over on their own 29 yard line, after picking up a yard on a rush play, Little took the snap from center Zac Mangum, stepped up into the pocket and found Jaylen Springs streaking across the middle with a full two strides on the defender to complete a pass, catch and dash reception for a quick 65 yard touchdown strike. Lyric Kopera drilled the PAT, Indy took a 7-0 lead with 17 seconds remaining on the scoreboard clock.
In the second quarter, Indy would add to their lead when Khalil Hoke made a huge stop on a fourth down and 11 situation for a no gainer giving the Patriots the ball on their own 34 yard line. The offense matriculated the football downfield with a combination of rushing and short passing yardage, but the big play occurred when senior RB Sincere McIntyre would take the handoff from the 17 yard line of the Mavericks break a tackle, find a seam, and scamper into the end zone giving Indy a 14-0 edge with 4:34 remaining in the first half as Kopera cleared the uprights.
The Mavericks could not put together a drive of their own as the Indy defense forced a punt with 2:40 remaining. Indy took over in good field position on the Mavericks 17 yard line after a personal foul penalty on the visitors. However, Indy suddenly was going in the wrong direction after gaining good yardage on two consecutive holding calls. With ball now on the 37 yard line, a 7 yard screen pass to McIntyre, another 7 yard pick up, followed by a reception to Austin Cowick to the 18, Indy decided to kick a field goal with time 32 seconds remaining. Kopera lined up for the kick, but the offensive line forgot their assignments, the kick was blocked and returned to the Indy 7 yard line by Nate Rawls for Marvin Ridge. On the next play from scrimmage with a 1st and goal, a Mavericks RB dashed into the end zone making the score 14-7 as kicker Jackson Moore smashed the football through the uprights with just 24 seconds on the scoreboard clock.
In the second half, the Patriots offensive unit continued to apply pressure on the Mavs defense while their own defense shutdown the visitors. After EJ Carr made another big stop by the Patriots defense, the offense took command of the football game, they scored on an 80 yard, six play scoring drive sparked by a 56 yard burst by McIntyre, and a 15 yard pass and catch reception from Little to Cowick giving the home team a 21-7 advantage with 3:31 remaining in the third quarter capped by a Kopera PAT.
The defense again created a scoring opportunity for the Patriots offense on the next Mavs possession Joshua Iseah deflected a pass and completed the play with an interception on the 35 yard line of the visitors in excellent field position. After a QB keeper for nice yardage, senior RB Shaun Soloman took the handoff and rumbled into the end zone for a 29 yard touchdown extending the lead to 28-7 after three quarters.
In the final quarter, the Patriots defense contained the Mavericks, as Quentin Reddish had the Pats second pass interception of the game. However, with 6:59 remaining in the contest a Mavs pass interception gave them a first down on the Pats 45 yard line. The offense moved the ball down to the 23 yard line, the Pats Iseah sacked the QB for a loss, but on a 4th down and 15 situation, Mavs QB Braydon Rediger found Jackson Gibbs open for the touchdown making the score 28-14 with 5:34 left in the football game.
The Patriots offense mounted a 3:00 minute drive before it stalled. The Mavericks took over with 2:00 minutes and where stopped on a 4th and long situation sealing the victory for Independence.
The Patriots are now 2-0 and will host a another home game next Friday night at the “Big I” against West Charlotte. While the Mavericks fall to 0-2, they will take on Ardrey Kell in an away non-conference matchup.