Mookie McWilliams, Nolan Carey Jr. and Kobe Clifton

Hickory Ridge football players (from left) Mookie McWilliams, Nolan Carey Jr. and Kobe Clifton

HARRISBURG – On Friday night, the Cream of Cabarrus No. 3-ranked Hickory Ridge football team took a 37-0 victory over East Mecklenburg in a Southwestern 4A Conference contest.

The Ragin’ Bulls improved their record to 7-3 overall and 4-2 in league play. Friday’s strong performance also helped Hickory Ridge snap a two-game losing streak, with those pair of defeats coming against the conference’s top teams, Myers Park and Butler.

“It was good to get a win after the last two weeks,” Bulls coach Jupiter Wilson said in a phone conversation with the Independent Tribune. “One was really bad (52-14 to Myers Park), and the other we probably let get away (23-13 to Butler). So it was just good to get a win to help guys feel good about themselves.”

The Ragin’ Bulls were boosted by a 27-0 first-half performance.

It was 7-0 after the first quarter, with junior running back Mookie McWilliams finding the end zone for the Bulls with a 65-yard touchdown run.

Senior running back Nolan Carey Jr. added a 15-yard rushing touchdown early in the second quarter and then had a 58-yard receiving touchdown from senior quarterback Kobe Clifton.

That second score for Carey Jr. came after a second touchdown from McWilliams earlier in the quarter and made it 27-0 with two minutes remaining in the first half.

“It was just a mixture of run and pass,” said Wilson. “We just saw some things from East Meck that showed we needed to switch some things up. So we had to run the ball more outside than inside, like usual.”

The Bulls traded punts with the Eagles (1-9, 0-6 SW4A) in the third quarter. Hickory Ridge threw an interception to open the fourth period, but an East Meck punt gave the ball right back to Hickory Ridge, and sophomore running back Sabin McLaughlin Jr. rattled off a 43-yard rushing score to widen the Bulls’ lead halfway through the fourth.

The first Bulls takeaway of the night came by way of a senior defensive back Isaiah Littlejohn’s interception late in the fourth quarter. Junior kicker Riley Stubbs booted a 47-yard field goal to end scoring for the night.

The Bulls face Southwestern 4A fourth-place team Porter Ridge in Indian Trail next Friday. It will be the regular-season finale for both teams. With a win, they will have at least a share of third place in the conference standings and solid seeding in the state playoffs.

“Like I told our guys before the game, and even after the game, our biggest enemy is ourselves,” Wilson said.

--Jay Boyd

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