It was a high school sports version of a unicorn — a you-won’t-see-this-again event.
In the world of spread offenses operating at warp speed, South Mecklenburg’s 3-0 victory Friday night at Myers Park was football from another era.
“I guess you don’t see stuff like this any more,” South Mecklenburg head coach Joe Evans said after his Sabres shut out one of the area’s most explosive offenses.
Myers Park has scored 221 points this season. Before Friday night, that was an average of 27.6 points a game.
Quarterback Lucas Lenhoff had thrown for more than 2,000 yards and 23 touchdowns. Myers Park had outscored the Sabres 144-6 in the last three meetings. But on Friday all of that changed.
South Meck beat Myers Park for the first time in seven years and Myers Park suffered its first regular-season home loss since 2017.
“Did I expect a game like this?” Evans said in responding to a question. “Well, we have a really good defense, and they (Mustangs) are solid defensively. I guess 3-0 isn’t very sexy football, but I’m happy with it.”
At least three dozen North Carolina high school teams scored 50 or more points Friday night. In one game, the losing team scored 40.
But not on homecoming night at Myers Park.
The Sabres got their points on a 35-yard Zane Davis field goal near the end of the first quarter, then relief on their defense – with the assistance of some Myers Park miscues – to bull their way into a share of first place in the South Meck 4A Conference.
With Ardrey Kell edging Olympic 13-12 Friday night, we have a three-way tie among Ardrey Kell, Myers Park and South Mecklenburg, entering the regular season’s final week. Each is 3-1. And Olympic is right behind at 2-2, with a game next Friday against Myers Park.
“We hoped we would get some points in the second half, but the defense decided at halftime that if we weren’t able to score, we’d make those three points stand up,” senior linebacker Matt Reddick said.
There are a lot of ingredients needed for an unusual game like Friday’s contest.
▪ South Mecklenburg (7-2, 3-1) made at least a half-dozen key defensive plays. The Sabres’ offense, while held in check by Myers Park (6-3, 3-1), helped the cause by playing turnover-free football.
And the Mustangs squandered several chances.
▪ Myers Park drove deep into Sabre territory midway in the first quarter, but linebacker Benji Tidwell picked off a Lenhoff pass at the goal line and returned it 17 yards.
▪ Lenhoff completed a 44-yard pass to the South Mecklenburg 5 in the third quarter, but an illegal shift penalty negated the play. Later in the quarter, an offensive pass interference penalty wiped out a 40-yard Mustang pass completion.
▪ Myers Park missed a short field goal with eight minutes left, and perhaps their costliest error was a running-into-the-kicker penalty near midfield with three minutes left. That gave the Sabres a first down and allowed them to run another 90 seconds off the clock.
Meanwhile, the Sabres’ defense twice stopped Myers Park on downs, including a stop at the South Mecklenburg 17 late in the third quarter.
Evans said he was worried that the pressure of covering Lenhoff’s receivers would tire his players in the fourth quarter.
“I was concerned about them getting gassed,” he said. “But we are well-conditioned. We have an extensive conditioning drill on Mondays. That paid off.”
The Sabres had plenty of defensive heroes.
Reddick had five tackles for loss and a sack. Panos Burlos had an interception and a tackle for loss. South Mecklenburg batted down three Myers Park passes at the line of scrimmage — two by Josh Streu.
Friday night, @SouthMeckSabres beat Charlotte rival @myersparkfball in an emotional game that left the Sabres -- who not long ago had suffered a 14-game losing streak -- tied on top of the conference
Full story/photos: https://t.co/Oq5M5fGiX2 pic.twitter.com/La7Vj1173O
— Langston Wertz Jr. (@langstonwertzjr) October 23, 2021
“Matt Reddick is an absolute animal in the middle,” Evans said. “The great thing about him is that when he starts flying around and making plays, everyone else starts doing the same thing.”
But another ingredient of a 3-0 game is a strong defensive effort by the losing team.
Myers Park defensive end Deems May, a senior, made the evening miserable for South Mecklenburg quarterback Cam Reese. May had three sacks, three quarterback pressures, and a tackle for loss. Senior defensive tackle Jordan Tinsley, known to the Mustang faithful as “Pot Roast,” had a sack and two tackles for loss. He also pressured Reese on most of his passing plays.
While the Mustangs were shut out, their quarterback was not totally shut down.
Lenhoff completed 15-of-36 passes for 183 yards.
“Actually, they ran a little more than I expected,” Reddick said of the Mustangs. “They threw it a lot in the first half but seemed to be doing a lot of running in the second half.”
So now Evans must keep his team an an even keel in preparation for next Friday’s game at Harding (2-7).
He said he typically allows his team to celebrate until noon Saturday, and then begin concentrating on the next opponent.
“I told them they could celebrate until 6 p.m. this time,” Evans said.
Steve Lyttle on Twitter: @slyttle
▪ Metrolina Christian beat the Cabarrus Warriors 42-38 to win the PAC championship and improve to 8-1 on the season....SouthLake Christian got its first win of the season, upsetting High Point Christian in overtime.
▪ Cuthbertson’s Keenan Jackson had a big performance in a 28-13 loss to Weddington: five catches, 173 yards and a touchdown....Mooresville’s defense held AL Brown to 168 yards total offense in a 14-6 win over. Mooresville’s Jawarn Howell ran for 97 yards.
▪ Concord beat West Rowan 21-13 Friday to win its sixth straight game. Spiders’ defensive stars Kadin Presutti and Tristen Pitman each had seven tackles.
▪ Providence Day upset Rabun Gap at home Friday and created a logjam in the Big South 4A standings. Rabun Gap (6-2, 4-1) is a half game ahead of Charlotte Latin (8-1, 3-1) and Providence Day (5-3, 3-1) with one game to play. If Providence Day beats Latin at home Friday, it’ll be the conference champion. Rabun Gap’s final regular-season game next week is out-of-conference against High Point Christian.
Rabun Gap, which Charlotte Latin 38-3 last week, had won six straight games before Friday’s 25-14 loss in Charlotte.
Friday’s #BIG5 Top Performers
Reid Eighmy, Metrolina Christian: in a 42-38 win over Cabarrus Warriors, Eighmy was 21-of-29 for 418 yards and five touchdowns. He ran for 25 yards. Receiver Tommy Miller had nine catches for 246 yards and three touchdowns.
Josh Iseah, Independence: 12 tackles, two sacks, interception in a 26-0 win over Mint Hill rival Rocky River. Teammate Kahlil Hoke had four tackles for losses and the Patriots allowed 96 pass yards, 81 rush and had four sacks and three fourth down stops. It was the Patriots’ second straight shutout.
Jacob Newman, South Mecklenburg: 29 carries, 183 yards against a tough Myers Park defense. He also caught two passes.
Luke Shaver, North Stanly: 11-of-21 passing for 207 yards and three touchdowns in a 21-18 win over Mount Pleasant. North Stanly only rushed for 56 yards on 24 attempts.
Justin Wheeler, Charlotte Latin: completed 18-of-28 passes for 202 yards and four touchdowns in a 35-0 win over Charlotte Latin. Daniel Haughton caught nine passes for 113 yards and a score.
Queen City 3A-4A
Chambers 48, West Charlotte 28
Mallard Creek 40, West Mecklenburg 7
North Mecklenburg 23, Hopewell 6
South Meck 4A
Ardrey Kell 13, Olympic 12
South Mecklenburg 3, Myers Park 0
Charlotte Catholic 42, East Mecklenburg 7
Independence 26, Rocky River 0
(Providence def. Garinger, forfeit)
Big South 4A (NCISAA)
Charlotte Latin 35, Charlotte Country Day 0
Christ School 34, Charlotte Christian 31
Providence Day 25, Rabun Gap 14
Greater Metro 4 4A
Hickory Ridge 28, Cox Mill 17
Lake Norman 25, South Iredell 14
Mooresville 14, AL Brown 6
Southern Carolina 4A
Marvin Ridge 49, Sun Valley 23
Porter Ridge 56, Piedmont 0
Weddington 28, Cuthbertson 13
Hibriten 21, Alexander Central 19
South Caldwell 30, Ashe County 6
Watauga 41, Freedom 0
Big South 3A
Crest 57, Hunter Huss 6
Kings Mountain 51, Ashbrook 0
Stuart Cramer 49, North Gaston 14
South Point 17, Forestview 14
South Piedmont 3A
Concord 21, West Rowan 13
East Rowan 36, South Rowan 22
Jesse Carson 35, Central Cabarrus 20
Western Foothills 3A
East Lincoln 34, North Iredell 0
Hickory 64, Fred T. Foard 14
North Lincoln 50, West Iredell 0
Statesville 57, St. Stephens 14
Rocky River 2A-3A
Monroe 48, West Stanly 0
Parkwood 26, Anson County 20
Piedmont Athletic (NCISAA)
Metrolina Christian 42, Cabarrus Warriors 38
SouthLake Christian 21, High Point Christian 20 OT
Western Football Conference (NCISAA)
Covenant Day 28, Hickory Grove 6
Catawba Valley 2A
Bandys 37, West Caldwell 26
Bunker Hill 27, Newton-Conover 13
Maiden 27, Lincolnton 7
West Lincoln 16, East Burke 14
Mountain Foothills 2A
Chase 52, Patton 8
Catawba Shores 1A-2A
Community School of Davidson 45, Christ The King 8
Mountain Island Charter 39, Carver 0
South Piedmont 1A-2A
Burns 37, Cherryville 0
Highland Tech (0-7, 0-4) at Thomas Jefferson Academy (4-3, 2-3)
Shelby 62, East Gaston 28
Yadkin Valley 1A-2A
Albemarle 46, Union Academy 20
Jay M. Robinson 54, South Stanly 7
North Stanly 21, Mount Pleasant 18
Hough 52, West Cabarrus 3
Pine Lake Prep 32, Lake Norman Charter 15
Camden (SC) Military (1-1) at Asheville School (5-2)
Carolina Bearcats 34, Sandhills Titans 8
Hickory Hawks (2-5) at Great Falls, SC (5-3)
Polk County (4-3) at Draughn (5-3)
Trinity Christian (2-4) at Forest Hills (5-3)
Pioneer Football League
Georgia Force (4-2, 3-0) at Cabarrus Stallions (3-4, 2-1), 5:30
Central Carolina 1A-2A
Lexington (1-5, 1-3) at North Rowan (5-2, 3-1), 10 a.m.