CONCORD – There was a lot of hope when the Cabarrus Warriors program was formed out of the football squads from Cannon School and cfa Academy, and that hope showed up in the first half of its homecoming clash with SouthLake Christian Academy Friday.
The Warriors found success on the ground and through the air, building an early lead, which evaporated due to a series of second-half mistakes and penalties as SouthLake pulled ahead for a 49-35 win at Randy Marion Field.
Cabarrus had a 21-14 lead before halftime and should have scored as time expired, but running back Fred Peace Jr. was stopped after taking a direct snap at the 1-yard line.
Shortly after the intermission, the Warriors recovered an Eagles fumble and drove 20 yards in five plays, all by Peace, who scored on a 4-yard swing pass to extend the Cabarrus lead to 28-14.
But on the Eagles’ next possession, Warriors defensive backs stripped receiver Cooper Wray of the ball at the 4-yard line on what appeared to be an incomplete pass, but it bounded into the end zone and was recovered by SouthLake Christian for what was eventually ruled a touchdown.
Then on the ensuing kickoff, the Eagles recovered an onside kick that the Warriors didn’t try to cover and quickly scored to tie the game.
“You have to give SouthLake credit, but I feel like we just shot ourselves in the foot,” Warriors coach Brad Hoover said. “Stupid mistakes and penalties are what have killed us all year.”
Hope was lost when the Eagles scored three quick touchdowns off Warrior miscues in the third and fourth quarters, including two interceptions and several defensive lapses.
“I tell the kids all that time that you can control attitude and effort, and that effort wasn’t there, especially in the fourth quarter,” Hoover said.
SouthLake Christian 5-2, 3-1 NCISAA Piedmont Conference; Cabarrus Warriors 1-6 overall, 0-3 NCISAA Piedmont
THE PLAY OF THE GAME
SouthLake Christian senior captain Luca Lutzel was all over the field, but his biggest moment was a 94-yard interception return for a touchdown that put the game out of reach.
Lutzel read the play and drifted to his left as Warriors quarterback Michael Dickens threw into coverage. Lutzel accelerated down the left sideline, breaking a couple of tackles to pass the 50-yard line, and then raced untouched into the end zone.
-- Peace pounded his way to another big night rushing with 164 yards on 31 carries. On two separate scoring drives, Peace generated all the Warriors’ offense, scoring on both drives -- one rushing touchdown and one receiving.
-- Dickens threw four touchdown passes, going 10-of-18 for 153 yards.
-- Receiver Xander Lamb caught five passes for 119 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also had a sparkling 35-yard kickoff return that set up a Warriors score.
-- Zach Reulbach led the Warriors with a game-high 10 tackles, while Nasir Roberts had eight. Austin Blackwelder and Niteesh Sirimilla had seven tackles apiece.
-- Josh Diaz and Tanner Lohse had good defensive outings, stuffing the tough Eagle running attack up the middle.
--Sophomore quarterback Matthew Lutzel hit on multiple big pass plays, notching 235 yards and five touchdowns.
--Running back Bryce Duquense hammered out 110 yards on 18 carries.
-- Cooper Wray came on strong late in the game, running for 79 yards and a 24-yard touchdown.
--In addition to his defensive work, Luca Lutzel caught eight passes for 103 yards, including a 40-yard score that broke the game open for the Eagles.
-- It was a big and boisterous crowd with lots of Warriors fans turning out for homecoming and SouthLake fans completely filling the visitors side of the stands.
--Warriors kicker Mitch Jeter can boom it. Four of his five kickoffs went for touchbacks, and he averaged 40.3 yards per punt, with a long of 53 yards.
--Congrats to Joseph Hurtado and Megan McKinsey for being named king and queen during the homecoming festivities at half ime.
WHAT’S UP NEXT?
Cabarrus hosts Rabun-Gap Nacoochee (Rabun Gap, GA) next Friday while Southlake Christian plays Hickory Hawks at Lenoir-Rhyne Stadium
SouthLake 0 14 21 14 -- 49
Cabarrus 7 14 7 7 -- 35
CW – Xander Lamb 9 pass from Michael Dickens (Mitch Jeter kick)
CW – Javon Meyers 8 pass from Dickens (Jeter kick)
SLC – Cooper Wray 43 pass from Matthew Lutzel (Zack Murphy kick)
SLC – Wray 17 pass from Matthew Lutzel (Murphy kick)
CW – Lamb 65 pass from Dickens (Jeter kick)
CW – Fred Peace Jr. 4 pass from Dickens (Jeter kick)
SLC – Carson Wolter fumble recovery in end zone (Murphy kick)
SLC – Wolter 25 pass from Matthew Lutzel (Murphy kick)
SLC – Luca Lutzel 40 pass from Matthew Lutzel (Murphy kick)
SLC – Luca Lutzel 94 interception return (kick failed)
SLC – Wray 24 run (Wray run)
CW – Peace 5 run (Jeter kick)