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August 20, 2011
Butler, West Rowan both lose in opening night
Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.
New seasons mean new teams. It also means new results for a pair of North Carolina powerhouse programs.
In a shocker, No. 98 Mount Ulla (N.C.) West Rowan lost to Mooresville, 21-14, a result that halts what was the longest winning streak in the country at 46 games. It is the first defeat since 2008 for the three-time defending Class 3A champions.
Meanwhile, in a battle of the state's two top teams, No. 49 Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek defeated No. 48 Matthews (N.C.) Butler, 28-20.
The result ends a 31-game winning streak for Butler, the two-time defending Class 4AA champions.
Clearly, this is a new season.
Last year, West Rowan gave up more than 14 points only once, during a 48-28 postseason triumph. Friday night it gave up 21 points in the second half, wasting a 14-0 lead.
"It's going to sound very simple, but I think they wanted it more in the second half," West Rowan coach Scott Young told the Salisbury Post. "I think we were a little fatigued and we knew we've got to work on that as a team."
The final score, a 36-yard TD run by Mooresville quarterback Deonte Black, was the difference.
Butler's loss is not as surprising. In fact, it's not even an upset but rather a pronouncement that Mallard Creek is the top team in Charlotte - a honor reserved for Butler and Independence throughout the past decade
Mallard Creek also showed how much it wanted this one, both early on and late.
After halting a drive by Butler with an interception at the 2 by Takhare Donaldson, it went on a 98-yard touchdown drive - aided by a fake punt - that culminated with QB Andrew Goodman hitting Jamel Harbison with a 17-yard strike. Mallard Creek increased its lead to 14-0 on its next possession as Jela Duncan ran behind five-star offensive tackle D.J. Humphries on the way to a 65-yard score.
Butler rallied behind quarterback Riley Ferguson, who threw a TD pass late in the first half to cut the lead to 14-7, then tied the game at 14 with a scoring strike in the third quarter.
"We knew with the kind of team they had, that this game was just getting going when we got up two touchdowns," Mallard Creek coach Mike Palmieri told The Charlotte Observer.
Palmieri then found out what type of team he has.
After the schools traded touchdown passes (though Butler missed a point after, producing a 21-20 Mallard Creek advantage), Mallard Creek put the game away with a bit of trickery as Harbison took a pitch from Goodman before finding Marquez North all alone for a 40-yard touchdown pass.
Not sure we learned much from Mallard Creek's win over Butler, aside from that we had the teams in the wrong order in the preseason. The game was as close as the final score indicated - although Mallard Creek never trailed. Butler will remain in the RivalsHigh 100, but slide to the No. 2 team in North Carolina.
NCPreps.com publisher Deana King contributed to this report.
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