Prep Football playoffs: A.L. Brown 42, Lake Norman 27
By Mike London
firstname.lastname@example.orgKANNAPOLIS ó Ron Massey is more of an Xs and Os guy than a screamer, but his loudest and best halftime speech of the season produced A.L. Brown’s strongest drive of 2008.
The chastised and motivated Wonders charged out of the locker room and marched down the field after the second-half kickoff to take control of a 3AA first-round playoff test against Lake Norman.
“The first time all year we’ve done that,” Massey said with a sheepish grin. “But, well, I’d better not repeat what I said to ’em.”
Fourth-seeded Brown dominated the 13th-seeded Wildcats in the third quarter, eventually built a four-TD lead and claimed a 42-27 victory at chilly Memorial Stadium.
Jamill Lott threw for 207 yards and four touchdowns and was Brown’s leading rusher with 71 yards. He had scampers of 26 and 32 yards in the second half.
“They had a lot of guys in the box, but once we were able to run the ball some, it set up the pass.” Lott said. “The line gave me time. The receivers ran great routes.”
No one expected 69 points to be scored. Brown (10-2) had been yielding 11 points a game, while Lake Norman (7-5) was giving up 12. The Wildcats held Mooresville to seven points and limited West Rowan to 10 points in regulation.
“We thought we had a good plan, but that’s a very athletic quarterback and he has excellent receivers,” Lake Norman coach Scott Sherrill said. “Their drive to start the second half laid the groundwork and forced our hand.”
The Wildcats stack the box and dare people to beat them through the air, and Lott was up to the task.
On his first scoring pass, he stepped past an onrushing defender and hit T. J. Johnson on the right sideline. Johnson cut back three times to elude tacklers and scored the first of his two touchdowns.
After Lott lofted a perfect pass to Colby Reid for a 30-yard TD, strong safety Xavier Watson returned an interception 64 yards to set up a 9-yard scoring run by Travis Riley. Morgan McDaniel’s PAT gave the Wonders (10-2) a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
The Wildcats looked finished, but they weren’t. A 40-yard run by Jeff Hager provided juice, and Lake Norman drove for its first score with 3:31 left in the half.
A fumble recovery by Matthew Cox put the Wildcats in business again, and quarterback Chris Blanton, who was 20-for-32 for 189 yards, hit Kevin Gradert for a touchdown three seconds before halftime to cut the Wonders’ lead to 21-14.
That momentum turn gave Massey a chance to raise his voice a bit.
“We really caught it at halftime for the way we were letting them move the ball,” linebacker Terrance Johnson said. “We knew we had to come out and make a statement in the third quarter.”
Brown did. T.J. Johnson’s kickoff return to the Brown 45 provided field position, and Lott steered a scoring drive that he finished with a 15-yard pass to Zach Massey.
Brown’s defense forced punts on Lake Norman’s two possessions, and the Wonders’ offense produced 14 efficient points. Brown scored on a sustained drive for a 35-14 edge before Lott’s 62-yard TD pass to T.J. Johnson put the game away.
“When the brackets came out, I thought we got as tough a draw as anyone,” Ron Massey said. “Lake Norman is a very good team with a little more speed than we expected. We were fortunate we were able to mix it up on offense, and Jamill had a great night throwing the football.”