Bears Outlast Mustangs
For the third time this season the North Moore Mustangs battled their opponent into the fourth quarter with a chance to win. And for the third time the Mustangs (0-6, 0-2) came up short.
Friday, Chatham Central handed the Mustang football team a 15-6 Yadkin Valley Conference loss on homecoming in Robbins.
The Bears scored two four quarter touchdowns to hold off the scrappy Mustangs.
"We played better, and we played hard -- these kids don't quit -- but we've got to be able to score more than six points. Right now our offense is struggling to do that," North Moore head football coach Butch Cleaveland said after the game.
North Moore's offense was not without its opportunities Friday.
Eight times the Mustangs had the ball inside Bear territory and only scored once.
"We were able to put drives together," Cleaveland said, "But we just shut down at the wrong spots."
Chatham Central held a 2-0 lead through the first three quarters of the game after a blocked punt went out of the Mustang end zone with 2:21 remaining in the first quarter.
The Mustang defense was stellar much of the night, but the Bears pieced together a drive to begin the fourth quarter that proved to be the difference in the game.
Taking over at their own 32 after a turnover, the Bears marched 68 yards on 13 plays and punched across the game's first touchdown on a 5-yard pass completion with 9:23 left in the game.
Twice on the drive the Bears converted long pass plays to keep the drive alive. One was a 31-yard completion on a third and 9 play. The other was a 47-yard completion on a second and 25 play.
The two point conversion failed, leaving the door open for the Mustangs.
On its next possession North Moore answered. The Mustangs drove 69 yards on 12 plays -- all on the ground. Senior running back Corey Smith did a majority of the work, picking up 38 yards on six carries. His last carry of the drive -- a 2-yard run -- gave the Mustangs a third and 6 at the Bear 13 with just under 5 minutes remaining.
Smith had his best game of the season rushing 20 times for 101 yards.
On third down quarterback Xavier Scotten gained two yards, setting up fourth and 4 from the Bear 11.
After a Bear time-out, Scotten took the ball from the shotgun formation, rolled right and sprinted around the end of the line, away from several Bear defenders and into the end zone with 4:36 left.
Scotten's run capped a 12-play drive. On the night the Mustangs had 176 yards rushing on 50 carries.
Trailing 8-6, the Mustangs needed a two-point conversion to tie the score. The Bears intercepted the attempt in the end zone.
The Bears recovered the ensuing on-sides kick at their own 49, but were unable to pick up a first down. A 40-yard punt -- the longest of the night by the Bear punter -- pinned the Mustangs back at their 10 with 2:40 remaining.
On a fourth and 4 play from the 16, Scotten scrambled to his left, but was hit from behind by a pursuing defender and fumbled. The Bears recovered the ball in the end zone for the touchdown and added the extra point to take a 15-6 lead with 1:43 left.
The Mustangs had numerous opportunities in the game but were unable to take advantage.
In the first half a 51-yard pass completion from sophomore quarterback Scotten to senior wide receiver Lyle Barnett set the Mustangs up at the Chatham Central 20. The drive ended four plays later on an incomplete pass.
On the next offensive series the Mustangs moved the ball from their own 48 to the Bear 26 before failing to convert on fourth down.
On the final drive of the first half the Mustangs took over at the Bear 16 following and interception by Jimmy Atkins. With 38.6 seconds left in the half, the Mustangs lost five yards on three plays to set up a 39-yard field goal attempt on fourth down by Alejandro De La Cruz. The kick sailed wide left as time expired.
In the third quarter the Mustangs advanced the ball into Bear territory on their first three possessions. The first drive ended at the Bear 40 on an interception. A failed fourth down conversion halted the second at the Bear 33 and a lost fumble killed the third at the Bear 32.
"We were able to put drives together all night," Cleaveland said. "We just shut down at the wrong spots."
The Mustangs will travel to East Montgomery Friday.
Contact Tom Embrey at 693-2477 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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