In football, “the hands team” commonly refers to the onside kick coverage unit. Middle Creek didn’t need a comeback in its 47-18 win over Southeast Raleigh Friday night on the Bulldogs’ field, but they have plenty of candidates.
On offense, Mustangs quarterback Sean Brown spread the ball around among nine receivers. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound senior finished the night completing 21-of-38 passes for 360 yards and five touchdowns without an interception.
“We’ve always spread the ball around really well,” Middle Creek coach Randy Ragland said. “We try to get them touches. I always say don’t forget about the guys on the other side.”
On defense, sophomore Breyden Harrison and junior Michael Macaluso picked off two interceptions apiece and junior Corey Hughes had one.
“I was wondering if that was a school record (for interceptions),” Ragland said. “I asked our defensive coordinator (Kendal Ray), who has been here for every game, but he thought we had a game with more. But it was a good defensive performance. I liked the way were flying around.”
The big-play guys with touchdown catches were junior Tharius Suggs, five balls for 115 yards with TD catches of 36 and 53; sophomore Tate Jones, four for 86 and touchdowns of 65 and 1; and Darius Boone, one catch for a 36-yard score.
Middle Creek struggled in the first half with sloppy play, but the Mustangs were nevertheless leading 27-0 before Southeast Raleigh scored twice in the second period to close the halftime deficit to 27-12.
Good teams are supposed to improve between their first-game jitters and the second time out, but Middle Creek made plenty of opening-night mistakes.
The Mustangs’ erratic first-half play included sacks of minus-16 and minus-9 yards, a fumbled handoff exchange, 7 yards lost on a bad snap, a blocked PAT, a 2-yard punt out of bounds at its 32-yard line.
That not only set up the Bulldogs’ second touchdown with 3.8 seconds to play in the first half, a short ensuing kickoff fumbled with 0.2 seconds remaining at the 35 set up a Hail Mary! pass that fell incomplete as time expired.
“It’s always good to win,” Ragland said. “Winning is fun. When winning stops being fun it’s time to get out of the business. But at the same time we know we’ve got some things to work on.”
RECORDS: Middle Creek (2-0) at Southwest Raleigh (0-2)
THREE WHO MATTERED:
(Middle Creek – Harrison, Owen) The senior didn’t score, but his four catches for 23 yards on underneath passes helped open the field for the big-play TDs.
(Southeast Raleigh – Cartwright, Zayvion) He recorded a 16-yard sack in the first quarter that led a defense that accounted for 13 plays for minus-71 yards.
(Southeast Raleigh – Clemons, E.J.) The junior came back for a 65-yard touchdown pass that Middle Creek’s defensive backs misplayed. He turned an sprinted to the end zone untouched.
--- If you were wondering about numerous low snaps from center and on two failed PAT kick attempts, Middle Creek’s injured starting center was one of five starters that missed the game. But Ragland didn’t use that as an excuse, saying he expected better play from his backups.
--- Southeast Raleigh’s kick return game gave the Bulldogs field position with Christian Ruffin’s 44-yard return to their 46 and Zaki Curtis’ 30-yard return to their 43, but the Bulldogs’ offense failed to gain a first down. They turned the ball over on a fourth-down incomplete pass and an interception.
--- MC – Tharius Suggs 36 pass from Sean Brown (Kyle Ihle kick)
--- MC – Darius Boone 17 pass from Sean Brown (kick blocked)
--- MC – Tate Jones 65 pass from Sean Brown (Kyle Ihle kick)
--- MC – Sean Brown 4 run (Kyle Ihle kick)
--- SER -- EJ Clemons 65 pass from Nassir Brown (pass failed).
--- SER – Zaki Curtis 7 pass from Nassir Brown (pass failed)
--- MC – Tharius Suggs 53 pass from Sean Brown (kick failed)
--- MC – Tate Jones 1 pass from Sean Brown (Kyle Ihle kick)
--- MC – Deshawn Fort 27 run (Kyle Ihle kick)
--- SER – Jamoree Ellis 3 run (pass failed).
RECAPS FROM AROUND THE TRIANGLE
Cardinal Gibbons 57, Riverside 27
Senior running back Jack Grazen scored four touchdowns as the Crusaders improved to 2-0 on the year.
Riverside took advantage of a Gibbons turnover, scoring first to take a 7-0 lead after Quinton Freeman touchdown. But the Crusaders scored 30 unanswered for a 30-7 halftime lead.
Leesville Road 28, Panther Creek 0
David Sohn scored one rushing touchdown and returned an interception 80 yards for another score as the Pride improved to 2-0 with a shutout win over Panther Creek.
Sohn scored the first touchdown of the game with a short TD run, and Trey Baker connected with DJ Grey for another score and Leesville led 14-0 at the break. Andrew Doss scored in the third and Sohn ended the game with his long touchdown return.
Jordan 26, Enloe 21
Enloe scored all 21 of its points in the fourth quarter, but still dropped to 1-1 as Jordan was able to hold off the Eagles.
The Falcons (2-0) scored in each quarter and held a 20-0 lead heading into the fourth. Enloe finally got on the board with nine minutes remaining in the game and got three touchdowns from Jaedon Wortham in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough.
Cameron Carrow threw three touchdown passes for Jordan and Jaden Harewood rushed for a score in the second quarter.
Wake Forest 42, Clayton 10
Clayton took an early 10-7 lead over Wake Forest, but the Cougars shut the Comets out for three quarters for their first win of the year.