Prep Football Playoffs: A.L. Brown 21, Marvin Ridge 13
By Bill Kiser
KANNAPOLIS ó At this time of the season, A.L. Brown head coach Ron Massey doesn’t care about stats or who does what during the game.
All he cares about is the final score ó as long as the Wonders come out on top.
In that instance, Massey was certainly satisfied with Brown’s 21-13 victory over Marvin Ridge in the second round of the state 3AA playoffs on Friday night.
Yet Massey also came away with a strange sense of deja vu ó not unusual, considering Friday’s game was a virtual repeat of what happened the last time the Wonders played the Mavericks.
“Yeah, it certainly was,” Massey said. “But it’s playoff time. I know a lot of our fans are going to say that it looked like we didn’t do this or do that, but it doesn’t matter. We’re playing next week, and that’s all that matters.”
Friday’s win was Brown’s eighth consecutive win, and sends the fourth-seeded Wonders (11-2) on to a third-round playoff matchup against No. 1 Catholic (11-2) in Charlotte next week.
The Cougars ó a 34-13 winner over eighth-seeded Asheville Erwin on Friday ó have long been a thorn in the side of the Wonders. The last three years, it’s been Catholic that has ended Brown’s season come playoff time.
However, the Wonders aren’t worrying about next week right about now, considering that their playoff run almost ended Friday night.
Marvin Ridge (7-6) nearly beat Brown during a regular-season game two months earlier, going ahead twice by taking advantage of Wonders miscues before falling 23-20 in overtime.
Friday night, the same thing happened ó the 12th-seeded Mavericks pulled ahead twice in the first half by taking advantage of Brown’s mistakes.
A fake punt in the first quarter set up Marvin Ridge’s first score, a 1-yard Seth Boyce keeper, and a Jamill Lott fumble deep in Wonders territory in the second quarter led to Boyce’s 8-yard TD pass to Mike Yerry with less than a minute to play for a 13-7 halftime lead.
“We’ve played real well the last couple weeks, but we didn’t play as well offensively this week,” Massey said. “A lot of the credit goes to them. We weren’t sharp … but we came from behind at halftime and that’s all that matters, because we get to play another week.”
And the Wonders can once again thank Lott for the comeback, and their defense for preserving it.
Lott threw for 125 of his 162 passing yards in the second half, including two key completions ó a 56-yard strike to Colby Reid, followed by a 27-yard TD catch by T.J. Johnson that put Brown up 14-13 with 2:31 left in the third quarter.
“Colby ran the route to perfection,” said Lott, who celebrated his 18th birthday by completing 10-of-17 attempts, with two interceptions. “And when T.J. caught that (TD) pass, it opened things up from there.”
Marvin Ridge had a chance to regain the lead, taking advantage of a partially-blocked punt to move to the Wonders 15. But a false-start penalty ó the Mavericks’ first of the game ó pushed them back, and Jordan Daly was short on a 37-yard field goal attempt with 7:16 left in the game.
Brown’s defense then came up with two big interceptions ó by Xavier Watson and Quin Gill ó the second of which set up Travis Riley’s 1-yard insurance TD with 58.6 seconds remaining.
“We shot ourselves in the foot with penalties, turnovers and things like that in the first half,” Massey said. “But it’s all about winning in the playoffs ó that’s all that matters. I don’t care what the score is or how good you play if you win and advance, and to get the opportunity to play again. That’s all we can ask for.”