Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 16, 2013

CHARLOTTE — Charlotte Catholic (10-2) once again rode the red coattails of senior running back Elijah Hood, who rushed for 206 yards and four touchdowns as the Cougars rolled to a 56-14 win over AL Brown (7-5) at Keffer Stadium on Friday evening.
Hood, who was selected this past week to participate in the prestigious US Army All-American Bowl, averaged 15.9 yards per carry and managed three touchdown runs of longer than 40 yards as Catholic continued its decade-long run of postseason success against the Wonders.
With the two teams meeting in the NCHSAA football postseason for the eighth time in nine years since CCHS moved up to the 3A classification before the 2005 season, Catholic improved to 7-1 in the series between the two tradition-rich programs.
“I am sad for our seniors that have worked their tails off for us, and it’s tough to see them go,” head AL Brown coach Mike Newsome said of his 19-man senior class.
After winning the coin toss and choosing to receive, Brown got off to an inauspicious start. With a false start penalty on the first play from scrimmage, the Wonders were quickly backed up and eventually fumbled on the third play of the drive. Catholic took over on the Brown 38 yard line and ran the ball seven times, with junior halfback Clay Lozzi cashing in a nine yard touchdown run to put the Cougars in front early.
After a Brown punt on the ensuing drive, Hood broke off his longest run of the night with a 73 yard gallop to pay dirt that gave Catholic a 14-0 advantage less than seven minutes into the contest.
Over the next two drives for the Wonders, Brown moved the ball down the field on completions from sophomore QB Damon Johnson to senior wideout Johnny Delahoussaey and junior receiver Casey Walker, but both drives eventually ended from a pair of turnovers on downs. The initial drive early in the second quarter saw a near touchdown slip through the hands of a Wonder receiver in the endzone and the latter drive stalled when CCHS senior cornerback Ryan Carroll broke up a possible first down completion.
Catholic quickly turned the second turnover on downs into points midway through the second quarter when senior tailback Drew Tomsho tallied a 66 yard touchdown run, amassing over half of his 128 rushing yards on the evening from the play and sending the hosts into the half with a 21-0 lead.
When Catholic scored twice in a 90-second span early in the third quarter on touchdown runs from Hood and Tomsho, the rout was on. Brown got on the scoreboard with two touchdowns (a 15-yard Rodney Edmonds reception and a 70-yard Kenon Jones run) late in the third quarter that sandwiched Hood’s third touchdown of the night. Hood ended his night with a fourth and final touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to put Catholic up 49-14 and junior fullback Nicholas Rizzieri completed the scoring with a 20-yard touchdown with just under eight minutes remaining.
“That was just Elijah being Elijah,” head Catholic coach Jim Oddo said of his star running back’s stellar performance. The UNC commit now has 2,875 yards and 41 touchdowns during his senior season and has played a large role in ending AL Brown’s season each of the past four years. “We have been lucky to come out on top more times than not in this matchup, but it has always been two great programs going head-to-head with the utmost respect for each other,” according to Oddo, who is in his 41st year at CCHS.
Newsome closes his third season in Kannapolis with a 29-11 overall record and feels that the future is bright. “Our JV and middle school programs have been flourishing, and we feel very good about so many of our young guys that have gained experience this season.” Newsome thinks that Kannapolis is knocking on the door of success after moving up to the 4A classification this year and has been through the seemingly one-sided rivalry before.
“It took seven years of knocking on the door of Independence before we finally broke through at Butler,” Newsome commented. The Butler Bulldogs have since won three state titles. “These kids want to win for the school, community and each other. I feel like their time is coming soon.”
The No. 4-seeded Charlotte Catholic Cougars will host fifth-seeded High Point Central next Friday. HPC was a 38-21 winner over Hopewell on Thursday evening.