CHARLOTTE — Standing in the end zone moments after the final whistle, A.L. Brown Coach Mike Newsome summed up his team’s performance Friday night.
“I’ll tell you what we did,” Newsome told his players. “We locked the freakin’ door on ‘em!”
The Wonders’ 55-40 win over the Vance High Cougars came, Newsome said, because the Kannapolis boys overcame their doubts to secure their second Mecka 4A conference win.
It was a fast-paced game, with both teams matching point for point in the first half.
Vance scored first, after just five plays and one minute, 42 seconds, on a 22-yard run by Donovon Spencer.
Exactly one minute and 42 seconds of game time later, Brown tied the game on a 51-yard reception by sophomore back Sandon McCoy, with 8:36 to go.
After ending the first quarter tied at 14, both teams scored three touchdowns and missed an extra point apiece, going into the locker room tied at 20.
When the Wonders came back after halftime, Newsome said, they’d made some defensive adjustments.
Missed tackles had been a problem in the first half, he said, but “we had some guys step up.”
Those changes, Newsome said, were the key to holding the Cougars to one touchdown in the second half.
The offense kept pounding, too, running rapid-fire plays and keeping the Vance defense busy.
The door slammed shut for the Cougars with a critical error late in the third quarter.
After taking a 41-34 lead early, the Wonders stopped an eight-play drive set up by a 59-yard kickoff return by Vance’s Oquan Bratton.
Brown took over on downs at their own 19 yard line, but was forced to punt six plays later.
Bratton signaled for a fair catch, but the ball ricocheted off his hands and was recovered by the Wonders at Vance’s 13 yard line.
On the next play, halfback Maliek Patterson ran the ball 13 yards for a touchdown.
McCoy went on to end the night with 96 total yards on offense and three touchdowns. He gave the Wonders’ offensive line credit for making those scores possible.
“They did a great job blocking, and I was able to close it up,” McCoy said.
Starting quarterback Andrew Ramirez completed 9 of 13 passes for 165 yards. Sophomore QB Damon Johnson went 2-for-4 for 51 yards.
Penalties were a problem for the Wonders, who were flagged eight times for 60 yards.
Late in the first quarter, a 15-yard roughing call against the Wonders turned a Cougars fourth-and-three into a new set of downs near midfield.
Three plays later, Vance’s Spencer ran the ball 38 yards for a touchdown.
Overall, Newsome said his team needs to combine the offensive performance they showed against Vance with the strong defensive game they played the week before against North Mecklenburg.
Now 5-1 overall, and 2-0 in the conference, A.L. Brown continues its run in the Mecka 4A next week at J.M. Robinson.
Ramirez said Friday’s win at Vance makes a statement: “We’re sending people a message that we belong in this conference,” he said. “If we believe in ourselves, we can accomplish anything.”
Still, as Newsome told his team before they left the field, “We’ve got a long way to go.”
Five conference matches, that is, including an Oct. 25 road game against Vance’s rival, the No.1-ranked Mallard Creek Mavericks.
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