WEDDINGTON – Although Weddington needed little time to score on the game’s opening possession, it appeared the Northwest Cabarrus football team was fully prepared to hang with the defending 3AA state champs in their state quarterfinal playoff game Friday night.
Over six plays, the Trojans covered almost 60 yards, but once their drive stalled at the Weddington 27-yard line, Northwest Cabarrus’ postseason dreams did, too.
The Warriors scored on the next play and built an insurmountable, four-touchdown halftime lead, as the Trojans fell 49-7.
Homestanding Weddington was everything as advertised. The Warriors had scored at least 35 points in every game this season, and reached that milestone against Northwest Cabarrus one minute into the second half.
Weddington, the West Region’s top seed and the No. 1-ranked 3A team in the state. according to MaxPreps, surrenders just five points a game. If fifth-seeded Northwest Cabarrus hadn’t scored on its final offensive play of the game, it would have been the Warriors’ seventh shutout victim of the season.
“They’re a good team,” said coach Brandon Gentry, who guided Northwest Cabarrus to the state quarterfinals for the second straight year. “If you make a mistake, they exploit it. We had way too many mistakes to beat a good team. We got really down, and there was just no coming back from that.”
Following an 11-yard Northwest Cabarrus punt, Weddington needed just four plays to cover 33 yards for a 21-0 first quarter lead. Then, on the first play of the second quarter, the Warriors’ Joe Zovistoski scored on a 25-yard scoop-and-score.
The Trojans threw interceptions on their first two possessions of the second half. Both led to short Weddington touchdown drives.
Northwest Cabarrus 12-2; Weddington 14-0.
THE PLAY OF THE GAME
Facing an early 7-0 deficit, Northwest Cabarrus had chances to continue its opening drive into Weddington territory.
A third-down pass from the Warriors’ 27-yard line was caught out of the back of the end zone by Marquan Williams. On the next play, the Northwest Cabarrus junior receiver was wide open inside the 10-yard line, but a pass from Nick Wilds-Lawing overshot him.
As the ball changed possession, Weddington junior running back Will Shipley took a handoff at his own 27 and quickly found separation 10 yards downfield. By the time he reached the end zone – 73 yards later – no Trojans defender was within 10 yards of him.
The score gave Weddington a 14-0 lead and swallowed any confidence Northwest Cabarrus had to that point.
-- Wilds-Lawing was 14-of-26 passing for 176 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown toss to Williams with the clock running inside the game’s final three minutes.
-- Weddington ran only 36 offensive plays. Despite the lack of opportunity for Northwest Cabarrus defenders, senior linebacker L.J. Currie had at least five tackles.
-- Shipley finished with 159 yards on 13 carries and scored three times.
-- Receiver/quarterback Dusty Mercer both caught a touchdown and threw for one.
-- Senior linebacker Alec Mock had a team-high 10 tackles and intercepted a pass.
-- Placekicker Ian Williams pitched a perfect game. He connected on all six of his extra-point attempts (Matthew Moonan made one in a mop-up role) and drilled all eight of his kickoffs to the back of the end zone.
-- Kudos to the Northwest Cabarrus fans who traveled in droves for 45 minutes to support their team at Weddington. However, a small group of students was seen carrying their school spirit flags back to the parking lot before the game, having been stopped at the gate and prevented from taking them inside the stadium.
-- One of Shipley’s most thrilling carries was a second-quarter. 1-yard gain in which he was chased deep out of bounds by Williams. Running too hard to sharply put on the brakes, Shipley impressively hurdled the water table behind the Northwest Cabarrus bench.
-- There was a strange sequence that followed the touchdown that put Weddington up 42-0 midway in the third quarter. A Warriors player was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after the play, which forced a 35-yard extra-point attempt. However, Northwest Cabarrus was penalized for roughing the kicker, allowing Ian Williams to try again from 26 yards. But the Warriors drew a false start penalty, pushing the attempt back 5 yards … which Williams eventually made.
WHAT’S UP NEXT?
Northwest Cabarrus’ season ended with Friday’s loss. Weddington will play host to Watauga – a 35-13 winner over Mount Tabor - in the state semifinals next Friday. Watauga eliminated A.L. Brown in the second round of the playoffs.
Northwest Cabarrus 0 0 0 7 -- 7
Weddington 21 7 14 7 -- 49
W – Will Shipley 8 run (Ian Williams kick)
W – Shipley 73 run (Williams kick)
W – Kambridge Tuttle 21 pass from Dusty Mercer (Williams kick)
W – Joe Zovistoski 25 fumble return (Williams kick)
W – Shipley 28 run (Williams kick)
W – Mercer 8 pass from Dante Casciola (Williams kick)
W – Kyle Parsons 56 run (Matthew Moonan kick)
N – Marquan Williams 7 pass from Nick Wilds-Lawing (Ezekial Senegal kick)