LANCASTER – Struggling to capitalize on opportunities, the Catawba Ridge Copperheads fell 20-13 to the Lancaster Bruins as they still are searching for their second win on the season.
Coming in both teams were looking to shake off a rough season, combining for only one win through the first couple months of the season.
Lancaster was winless through the first seven games of the season until Friday night. Catawba Ridge is now 1-7 overall and 0-3 in Region 3-4A.
“I am proud of the guys, but we have to find ways to make plays and stop them,” said Copperheads head coach Zac Lendyak.
Catawba Ridge worked their way down the field after taking the ball at midfield on their second series. Several plays later, quarterback DJ Latimer called his own number and punched it in from 7-yards out.
On their next series, Lancaster got in great field position down to the 17-yard line, but fumbled giving the ball back to the Copperheads.
Lancaster shot themselves in the foot multiple times with penalties. They had six penalties in the first quarter for 60 yards. For the game, they had 19 penalties for 165 yards.
On their first possession of the second quarter, the Copperheads had to settle for a 32-yard field goal by Camden Gifford to go up 10-0 with about 9:30 left in the quarter.
Lancaster was able to put together a good drive as running back Mikel McCullum and quarterback RJ Brown worked their way to the 5-yard line. Bryce Surratt then took it in on the next play to cap off a 9-play, 72-yard drive and put the Bruins on the board with about six minutes left in the half.
The Bruins defense held Catawba Ridge on the next drive. Brown and McCullum then put together an 80-yard drive in 1:45 to take the lead after a Brown 7-yard scoring run with less than two minutes left in the half. Lancaster did most of their work on the ground in the first half with only two passes thrown by the Bruins. Lancaster rushed for 204 yards on 28 carries in the first half.
The Bruins fumbled the second half kickoff and gave the ball back to the Copperheads at the Lancaster 23. Catawba Ridge was able to get to the five-yard line but had to settle for a 23-yard field goal from Griffin to pull within one at 14-13.
Brown had a 98-yard kickoff return to the one-yard line on the ensuing drive, but a sideline warning back them up to the 6-yard line. McCulllum rushed in from two yards out in just two plays later to extend the Bruins lead.
The Copperheads alternated between Latimer and CJ Couch at quarterback and struggled to move the ball consistently in the game. Latimer threw for just 25 yards and ran for 24 yards, while Couch threw for 38 yards and had negative rushing yards.
Catawba Ridge lost another player in running back Brayden Wasik who was hurt in the first quarter. Wasik rushed the ball just one time in the game. He is the 14th Copperheads player injured this season for Catawba Ridge. The extent of his injury is not known.
Catawba Ridge gave up 320 yards on the ground to Lancaster. McCullum rushed for 172 yards on 24 carries and Brown rushed for 104 yards on 24 carries. The Copperheads had just 80 rushing yards. Lincoln Wise led Catawba Ridge with 39 yards on 10 carries.
Next week, Catawba Ridge host Indian Land in another key region game.
Mac Banks: email@example.com, @fortprep