Patriots Roar Back: Rally from 14-0 Hole to Claim 44-27 Win
A Cox Mill football team that crushed its first two opponents this season rolled to touchdowns the first two times it had the ball against Pinecrest Friday night in Concord.
“When you see that 14-0 up there it’s got to fire you up and motivate you,” Patriot linebacker Jonah Caliri said afterward. “Honestly, we were a little surprised, but we got back after it and showed them what the deal was.”
Behind a five-touchdown performance by senior Dwayne Simpson that included 206 yards on 18 carries, the Patriots outscored the Chargers 35-7 in the middle quarters on the way to a 44-27 victory.
An enormous field position advantage set up by the Patriot kicking game, and four Charger turnovers, helped pave the way. The Pats (2-1) entertain Pfafftown Reagan (2-1) on Friday.
The home team used up almost half of the first period on a 15-play grind-it-out drive for its first touchdown. The next time they got the ball, it took only four snaps to get in the end zone on a 60-yard burst up the middle by Charger star Diron Chole.
Sophomore quarterback Bradley Black left the field with signs of a concussion after the next Patriot offensive series. He was replaced by senior Aaron Reimer, but they went three and out for the third time in a row. The total offense for the three possessions was minus six yards. Simpson had yet to touch the ball.
Then a 56-yard punt by Frankie Painter on the final play of the first quarter changed the momentum and the field position dynamic.
“I know people don’t get into kicking that much, but it’s really a big deal,” Painter said. “Special teams are a third of the game.”
Following a short Charger punt, the Patriots took over at the home 30. Simpson’s first carry of the night produced 17 yards. Out of nowhere the Patriots suddenly became an offensive juggernaut.
The five-play scoring drive included a pass completion of 10 yards from Reimer to Ryan Smith. Simpson then got behind center Greg Mello, took the snap and scored from the two. The first of five conversions by Connor Hees made it 14-7.
On the first play after the ensuing kickoff, cornerback Nick Lacy recovered a fumbled backward pass from Charger quarterback Kelly Hall at the 14. Simpson circled left on the first play for the touchdown. With the kick by Hees it was suddenly 14-14.
On a night that the average start for the Chargers in 13 possessions was from the 24-yard line, Jackson Maples put the first of six kickoffs in the end zone. But helped by a personal foul penalty, the home team retook the lead on a 16-yard run by Malik Johnson.
The wild first half ended with the teams tied at 21-21 after Simpson went 64 yards off left tackle for his third touchdown of the game.
“Cox Mill came out firing,” Reimer said. “Our offense didn’t start out very well, but the defense picked up and we got the momentum from them. Our offensive line was just blowing people up. Dwayne was crazy — awesome to watch.”
Josh McCoy and Joe Anderson took turns with Simpson in the backfield as the Patriots drove 62 yards after the second half kickoff to take a 28-21 lead. An interception and 20-yard return by Maples on the next series led to a five-yard scoring run by Reimer, making it 35-21.
A fumble recovery by Kellen Winningham got the ball back again for a 52-yard field goal attempt by Maples that was long enough, but just wide to the left.
Early in the fourth period, a botched pitch play by the Patriots gave the Chargers life, starting from the visitor 30. They cashed in on a one-yard run by Johnson, but Lacy knifed through to spoil the run for two points, making it 35-27.
The Pats answered right back. J’hyvion Justice returned the kickoff to his own 47. Justin Sengkhenpong ran for 18 yards on the drive that culminated in an eight-yard run for Simpson’s 10th touchdown of the young season.
A fumble recovery by defensive tackle Luke Fetla led to a 31-yard field goal by Maples that completed the scoring.
The performance by Simpson, who scored the team’s first nine touchdowns this season, was one of the best by a Patriot back in many years. In 1971, Dexter Pride ran for 321 yards in a game against Union Pines. With further research required, the five touchdowns might be a Patriot record.
“Dwayne runs hard, breaks tackles and has great vision,” Metzger said. “I think what is more amazing is how he goes about being a leader. He’s the total package. The offensive line did a great job as well.
“The kids believed. They’ve worked hard and they have great leadership.”
Pinecrest 0 21 14 9 — 44
Cox Mill 14 7 0 6 — 27
Scoring: (CM) Johnson 4-run ( kick); (CM) Chole 60-run (kick); (PC) Simpson 2-run (Hees kick); (PC) Simpson 14-run (Hees kick); (CM) Johnson 16-run (kick); (PC) Simpson 64-run (Hees kick); (PC) Simpson 7-run (Hees kick); (PC) Reimer 5-run (Hees kick); (CM) Johnson 1-run (run failed); (PC) Simpson 8-run (kick failed); (PC) Maples 31 FG.
Team stats: First downs – (PC) 15 (CM) 23; Rushing – (PC) 31-256 (CM) 46-215; Passing – (PC) 5-16, 41 yds. (CM) 13-24, 158 yds. int.; Penalties – (PC) 13-91 (CM) 7-54; Fumbles – (PC) 1-1 (CM) 3-3; Punts – (PC) 4 – 42.5 (CM) 4-16.5.
Individual stats: Rushing – (PC) Simpson 18-206, Anderson 2-25, McCoy 4 – 16, Sengkhenpong 1-18, Reimer 5 (1-10), Black 1-1 (CM) Chole 18-181, Johnson 15-33, Hall 12-5, Meachum 1-(-4); Passing – Reimer 4-12, 39 yds., Black 1-4, 2 yds. (CM) Hall 13-24, 158 yds., Int.; Receiving – (PC) Ray 2-19, Smith 1-10, Sengkhenpong 1-10, Tew 1-2 (CM) Johnson 6-63, Meachum 5-64, Hill 2-31.
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