Prep Football Playoffs: A.L. Brown 28, Charlotte Catholic 27
By Bill Kiser
CHARLOTTE ó Jamill Lott is the first to admit that the last three seasons have been frustrating ones for A.L. Brown.
Not because of the way the Wonders have played, but because of the team that’s stood in their way during the playoffs.
That made Brown’s 28-27 upset victory over Charlotte Catholic in the third round of the 3AA playoffs on Friday night that much more important.
Not only does the win send the fourth-seeded Wonders (12-2) to the regional finals for the first time since 2005, it ends three consecutive years of playoff losses at the hands of the Cougars.
“We had to win this game,” said Lott, who had been on the sidelines or on the field in all three of Brown’s previous losses. “The seniors had to get this one. We weren’t going to let this one get away from us.”
It was Lott who did most of the damage against the top-seeded Cougars (11-3). He ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 154 yards and two more scores, including a 37-yarder to Colby Reid with 10.5 seconds remaining.There were other big plays ó Billy Simiton came up with a key block on the extra point after Catholic’s final touchdown, and kicker Morgan McDaniel’s fourth PAT provided the winning margin.
“The thing I’ll remember about this game was our kids believed they would win,” A.L. Brown coach Ron Massey said. “Even when it didn’t look good and we left our defense stuck out there, they came up with some stops. … And Colby came up with that play.”
With time winding down, Reid made the key catch on a slant pattern.
He shook off one tackler, then outran two more defenders to the end zone to tie the score at 27-all. McDaniel’s extra point put the Wonders in the lead.
“Everybody was going to the right, so I was alone over the middle,” Reid said after making his sixth touchdown catch of the season. “I was thinking touchdown ó nothing else.
“This means so much ó this is probably bigger than the Concord game right now. But truly, this is nothing but another stop on the road to the championship.”
The Wonders nearly got run off that road Friday night thanks to turnovers.
While Brown’s defense forced three, Catholic picked off Lott three times. It turned two of those interceptions into touchdowns.
The last of those came early in the fourth quarter, when Joe Felts turned an in-the-grasp screen pass from Danny Reyes into a 21-yard touchdown to put the Cougars ahead 27-21 with 11:15 left.
Simiton raced in from kicker Jesse Roy’s left and made a clean block.
“This was big,” Simiton said. “This was for everybody who’s ever suited up and played against them. We’ve gotten closer each year, but Coach said this was our year, we just had to believe.”
The Cougars ó who had advanced to the state finals each of the last three years and won the title in 2005 ó fought back to tie the score twice and led twice behind Felts, Reyes and running back Johnny O’Boyle.
Felts ran for 69 yards and two scores, and Reyes threw for 154 yards and one touchdown. O’Boyle did most of the damage, running for 106 yards and one touchdown on just nine carries and catching three passes for 101 yards.
The defense gave Brown extra chances, forcing three-and-outs on the next two possessions after Catholic’s final touchdown and eventually putting the ball back in Lott’s hands with 1:09 remaining.
Brown was back in the lead less than a minute later and on its way to the next round, where it will face second-seeded Kings Mountain (11-3).
“This is a special night, and I hope it’s one our community and fans will be proud of,” Massey said. “We’re going to enjoy this one ó just a couple hours for me, but I want the kids to enjoy this one for a while.”
NOTES: Kings Mountain, where Massey coached before arriving in Kannapolis, advanced with a 56-55 victory against third-seeded Anson County. Anson, which came up short with a run on a game-winning attempt at a two-point conversion, shared the SPC title with A.L. Brown. … Top-seeded Dudley will play host to eighth-seeded Northeast Guilford in the East final.