MINT HILL, NC – On Friday evening the Independence varsity football team traveled to Myers Park High School for a Southwestern 4A Conference contest against the Mustangs.
Not only was this the final game of the season, but it was also Independence’s head football coach Mike Natoli last game as the Patriots’ head coach, and the Patriots showed up ready to play.
The Mustangs took the opening kickoff, and Indy’s defense forced Myers Park to punt and kept the Mustangs in check for the first quarter.
With 1:18 left to play in the first period, Indy’s Arnold Taylor scored on a quarterback keeper from the four-yard line. On the point after attempt, Josiah Perez took a direct snap and passed to Moshay Saw for the two-point conversion to give Indy an 8-0 lead as the first quarter came to an end.
With 4:50 left in the first half, the Patriots had to punt inside their own five-yard line. The Mustangs’ defensive line came hard blocking the punt which was recovered in the end zone for the score. The Mustangs’ two-point conversion was good and the score was tied at eight.
On Indy’s next possession, Myers Park intercepted a pass and moved the ball to Indy’s nine-yard line. The Patriots held and Myers Park settled for a field goal and took an 11-8 half-time lead.
In the third quarter, as Indy had been stopped on its own 45-yard line, the Patriots lined up for the punt, but the snap went to Josh Iseah who passed to Bryson Tisdale who took it to the house. Ryan Howe kicked the extra point, and the Patriots took a 15-11 lead with 7:06 left in the third quarter.
Myers Park answered with a 17-yard touchdown pass to give the Mustangs an 18-15 lead with 5:18 remaining the quarter. On Indy’s next possession, the Mustangs picked off a Patriots pass, and the Mustangs struck quickly scoring on a 30-yard touchdown pass to take a 25-15 lead with 1:47 remaining in the period.
In the final stanza, Myers Park scored its final touchdown on a 27-yard pass to make the score 32-15 with 9:07 left in the game.
The Patriots came fighting back with Divine Allah picking up a first down on a pass from Arnold Taylor. Taylor’s pass to Bryson Tisdale gave Indy another first down.
After Khalil Morrison gave Indy a first down and goal, Arnold Taylor ran 6-yards for the touchdown to make the final score 32-22.
Myers Park went undefeated with a 7-0 record receiving a number 2 seed and will host number 7 seed, Northwest Guilford, in the first round of the state playoffs.
The Patriots’ season came to an end with a 2-5 record. Indy posted a 16-25 record during Coach Natoli’s tenure as head coach.
Independence 8 0 7 7 – 22
Myers Park 0 11 14 7 – 32