Catawba Ridge quarterback Nate Thomas dodges a Lancaster defender during the Copperheads game Friday. Photos by Ernie Rowell

By Robert Howey

Special to Fort Mill Prep Sports

LANCASTER – Catawba Ridge coach Zac Lendyak said it was a matter of the Copperheads plugging away.

“We noticed Lancaster’s defense was getting wore down and we kept the tempo,” said Lendyak, who saw Catawba Ridge snap a two-game region losing skid with a 31-10 win over the Bruins on Friday night at Lancaster Memorial Stadium.

The Copperheads, 4-4 overall and 1-2 in Region 3-4A, scored 17 unanswered points in the second half to take the 21-point win.

Catawba Ridge led 14-10 at the half, and extended its lead to 17-10 with a Kohen Kozel 37-yard field goal with 9:01 left in the third period.

The game stayed that way until the final period when the Copperheads struck for two touchdowns to ice the win.

Tyler Jones, who ran for 116 yards on 22 carries, capped a 36-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run with 5:52 to play and Kozel added the kick for a 24-10 lead. Jones, a hard-running back, carried the ball four straight times before scoring.

The Copperheads took advantage of another short field to post their final points with quarterback Nate Thomas whipping a 21-yard touchdown pass to Trevor Testerman to seal the win.

“We were minus three starters tonight, two on offense, but I felt our back-ups stepped up for us,” Lendyak said. “They really came through.”

The Copperheads played without ace quarterback Jadyn Davis, who was out with an injury and is questionable for next week.

Catawba Ridge showed from the start it came to play, going 77 yards in 11 plays, with Thomas hitting Jarius Frank on a six-yard pass for a 7-0 lead with 7:29 in the opening period.

Lancaster answered in the second period when Mikal McCollum blasted through the line and went 61 yards for a touchdown with 9:32 in the half. Johnny Zatarain’s extra point tied the game at 7-7.

The Bruins, following a Cureton Witherspoon interception and return to the Copperhead 26, appeared on the prowl for more points, but two plays later, the Copperheads’ Shelton Crawford picked off a pass and dashed 75 yards for a timely pick six with 7:31 in the half.

“That was huge,” Lendyak said. “We will take a swing like that anytime. Shelton made a good break on the ball.”

Lancaster, late in the half, closed the gap, with Zatarain kicking a 23-yard field goal to make it 14-10 at the break.

In the second half, Lancaster was unable to score and Bruins’ coach Marcus Surratt had no answer.

“For the second straight week, we had a meltdown,” Surratt said. “It’s really disappointing because we were right there, and let it slip away. We just didn’t execute and hurt ourselves with turnovers.”

Lendyak was elated with the win.

“We had been so close in our other region game, so we really needed this,” he said. “It feels good to get it.”

Catawba Ridge will host the Indian Land Warriors next week in a crucial region battle at home in the Snake Pit.

Catawba Ridge’s Tyler Jones moves the ball up field for the Copperheads.