MOUNT PLEASANT – The Cream of Cabarrus fourth-ranked Cox Mill football team fought back from a 14-point deficit halfway through the third quarter to defeat sixth-ranked Mount Pleasant, 42-21, Friday night at Tiger Stadium.
The Chargers overcame a first half in which Mount Pleasant held the football for more than 20 minutes, followed by a disastrous start to the third quarter in which the Tigers ended up recovering an onside kick by Cox Mill. Mount Pleasant then scored a touchdown, then recovered their own onside kick and scored again to take a 21-7 lead with 7:08 left in the third.
Then came a slew of big plays for the Chargers. Less than a minute after Mount Pleasant made it 21-7, Chargers quarterback Varney Farhnbullah hit wide receiver Barry Robertson for a 59-yard touchdown to make it 21-14. Then Cox Mill’s defense forced a quick three-and-out, followed by Farhnbullah connecting with wide receiver Luke Sutton for a 21-yard touchdown with 45 seconds left in the third to tie the game.
“I told the kids I’m excited that we picked it up after the initial start to the second half,” said Chargers coach Craig Stewart. “We picked it up a little bit, and you could see us come alive. Defensively, we picked it up and played a lot better. Offensively, we moved the ball and we made some big plays. That’s what it takes to win tight ball games like this.
“(The Tigers are) a good team, and they played hard. We had the opportunity to get over the top of them a couple of times and score on some long plays, and that helped us.”
Cox Mill 3-2 overall, 0-0 South Piedmont 3A Conference; Mount Pleasant 2-4, 0-0 Rocky River 2A
THE PLAY OF THE GAME
Early in the fourth quarter, the Tigers had the ball facing fourth- and-2 from their own 45-yard line. Rather than punt from close to midfield, Mount Pleasant elected to go for it. Its running game had been effective all night, and with the game tied after the Chargers reeled off 14 straight points, it needed to get momentum back. While it looked like running back Dalton Miller had a hole on the left side of his offensive line, when he got back to the line of scrimmage, he was met by Cox Mill defenders and stopped for no gain.
The next offensive play, Farhnbullah found Robertson for a 39-yard catch and run down to the 5. Two plays later, Farhnbullah hit Sutton for a 2-yard touchdown to take the lead. That proved to be the winning touchdown with 9:56 remaining.
“The fourth down, going for it,” said Tigers coach Mike Johns. “That was kind of the turning point of the game. I feel like if we make that first down, we’re just fine. I would have done it again, without a doubt. We don’t punt in situations like that. I have enough confidence in the boys that we’re going to make it. Unfortunately, something didn’t jive with the formation, and they leaked a guy through. Nine out of 10 (times), we get it.”
– Farhnbullah finished with five touchdowns and more than 300 yards passing.
– Robertson and Sutton both caught two touchdowns.
– Miller ran for 123 yards and two touchdowns.
– Quarterback Shane Reigel went 10-for-14 for 83 yards and a touchdown through the air while also running for 51 yards.
– Cox Mill hurt itself throughout the first half and early third quarter with penalties.
– Despite the self-inflicted penalties, the Chargers were big-play machines, starting with the final play of the first half. They had touchdowns of 54 yards, 59 yards and 73 yards on offense, along with a 39-yard pass that set up a short touchdown. They also had a 63-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
– If it was not for the fumble, Mount Pleasant would have likely kept up a serious ground game that was still producing quality runs.
Mount Pleasant visits East Rowan next Friday. Cox Mill plays host Northwest Cabarrus.
Cox Mill 0 7 14 21 – 42
Mount Pleasant 0 6 15 0 – 21
MP – Jakob Whitley 2 pass from Shane Reigel (kick failed)
CM – Barry Robertson 54 pass from Varney Farhnbullah (Sam Weber kick)
MP – Dalton Miller 7 run (Dalton Miller run)
MP – Miller 2 run (Owen Prifti kick)
CM – Robertson 59 pass from Farhnbullah (Weber kick)
CM – Luke Sutton 21 pass from Farhnbullah (Weber kick)
CM – Sutton 2 pass from Farhnbullah (Weber kick)
CM – 63 fumble return (Weber kick)
CM – Wesley Poindexter 73 pass from Farhnbullah (Weber kick)