The Catawba Ridge Copperheads turned their offense up all the way in the second half scoring on five of their possessions to blowout the West Cabarrus Wolverines 45-0.
Catawba Ridge scored 35 second half points on five touchdowns, getting in the end zone on their first five possessions. The Copperheads had a modest 10-0 lead at the half, but that wasn’t working for head coach Zac Lendyak.
“We weren’t effective,” he said. “We weren’t playing Catawba Ridge football and I told them if we didn’t play Catawba Ridge football we were going to lose.”
That short but important two-minute talk by Lendyak sparked a fire under the Copperheads and they responded in the second half. The Copperheads are now 4-0 on the season and have improved every week.
“We are pretty much where we want to be,” Lendyak said. “We have cleaned up penalties. We have got to get better at assignment football.”
Catawba Ridge looked to pull away in the second half as they scored on three plays after a kickoff return got them to the 50. A 30-yard pass from quarterback Nate Thomas to Sheldon Crawford got the Copperheads to the red zone and then an 18-yard run by Evan Hamilton set up a Tyler Jones two-yard touchdown run. Thomas was 6-for-11 for 88 yards. His leading receiver was Miles Baucom, who caught three passes for 35 yards.
The defense struck again for Catawba Ridge as they had been threatening to block a punt all first half, they finally got to the West Cabarrus punter and blocked a punt allowing Jackson Burger to scoop and score from 8-yard touchdown to give the Copperheads a 24-0 lead with nine minutes left in the third quarter.
After another three and out by the Wolverines which twice nearly resulted in a safety, Crawford then returned a punt 40-yards on a reverse for a touchdown to extend Catawba Ridge lead with 6:17 left.
Despite leading 31-0 to open the last quarter, Catawba Ridge didn’t end the scoring in the fourth quarter as Ira Mister scored on a 21-yard run with 10:48 left in the game. Mister rushed for 45 yards on seven carries to lead the Copperheads.
Catawba Ridge’s second string finished out the game in the fourth, but not without putting up more points as Brayden Wasik scored from three yards out with about 7:30 left in the game.
The Copperheads defense stole the show in the first half as several defensive players led by Rasean Marajah and Mister were able to keep the Wolverines moving backwards more than forward. The Catawba Ridge defense allowed just one West Cabarrus first down in the first half. Marajah had four sacks in the game through three quarters. Catawba Ridge’s defense has given up just 14 points in four games this season.
Lendyak said the defense being as good as they have been helps the offense on their side of the ball.
“It gives our offense time to figure things out,” he said.
After a scoreless first quarter, Catawba Ridge got on the board in the second quarter with a 42-yard field goal by Kohen Kozel to give them a small 3-0 lead with a tick under 11 minutes in the opening half.
On West Cabarrus next drive, the Copperheads’ Donnell Williamson picked off a Wolverines pass and gave Catawba Ridge good starting field position. About five plays and 22-yards later, Brody Tesimale extended the Catawba Ridge lead to 10-0 with 8:23 left in the second quarter.
Catawba Ridge had a lot of short yardage plays to work with as the Copperheads defense forced the Wolverines to punt often deep in their own territory in the first half.
The Copperheads remain at home next week as they host the Chester Cyclones.
Mac Banks: email@example.com, @fortprep