CHARLOTTE – In a span of about nine seconds, Myers Park stars Jake Harkleroad, Drake Maye and Moose Muhammad helped turn a close game into a blowout, leading the Mustangs to a 50-7 win over Ardrey Kell on Aug. 24.
The Knights struck first on a Hail Mary pass from Matt Bennett to Michael Hetzel down the sideline to give the Knights a 7-0 advantage.
“We gave up that one touchdown early on a play that we probably should have made, but I liked how we responded from there,” Mustang coach Scott Chadwick said.
Not long after, Moose Muhammad zigged and zagged his way to a 55-yard run on a fake punt for a touchdown, but there will be more from Muhammad coming.
The Mustangs would go up 14-7 on a 68-yard catch and run to Andre Francois, but seemed to lose that momentum on the ensuing drive.
Early in the second quarter, the Mustangs were driving again but lost a fumble that appeared to be down by contact. The Knights recovered the ball.
That’s when the game hit its turning point.
On the very next play, Bennett’s pass was intercepted by Harkelroad, who had nice return.
On the next play from scrimmage, Maye threw his second TD pass of the night to Muhammad for a 43-yard score.
“Drake made a couple of just unbelievable throws and I was really pleased with him. He’s been progressing really well,” Chadwick said.
That gave the Mustangs a 21-7 lead, and they would dominate from there.
Muhammad would also run back a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown that got the Mustangs to 31-7 later in the game.
Elijah Bowick and Jacquez Robinson added first half touchdowns, giving the Mustangs a 37-7 advantage at the half.
The defense was also lights out, allowing the Knights all of 21 yards on 22 rushes on the ground and limiting them to just one second half first down.
“I was really pleased and thought we looked extremely good,” Chadwick said. “There are still some things we need to work on and get better at, but I thought we did play really well.”
Myers Park shined through the air with Maye connecting with Bowick, Muhammad and Francois, a South Meck transfer who seems to be open on every play, for two touchdowns and nearly 300 yards in the win.
“Andre has been doing a great job and has been a very good receiver for us,” Chadwick said. “He’s going to benefit from Elijah and Moose being out there, but he’s done a great job in his own right. It’s tough for teams to cover all three of those guys.”
As if they needed any reinforcements, Myers Park is also welcoming in Tim Newman Jr., a two-time all-CISAA running back who transferred in from Country Day the first day of CMS classes despite playing in the first two games of the season.
Myers Park is his home district, Chadwick said, so the transfer can take place without any restrictions or limitations on his immediate eligibility.
This year, Newman ran just 12 times for just 44 yards, for the Bucs, who improved to 1-1 with a win over the Carolina Pride.
In two seasons prior, Newman has rushed for over 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns.
At Myers Park, he’ll join his brother, freshman running back Jacob Newman, along with Jatoine Fields and Robinson in a suddenly packed backfield.
“We’re going to work him in,” Chadwick said. “We’re really pleased with the group of guys we have back there, including his brother, but we’ll work him into the mix.”
The Mustangs will get the chance to show their new ground attack off this week against Providence, who is coming off a 48-10 loss to Hough, but a team Chadwick doesn’t take lightly.
The Mustangs have won each of the past three in the series, including last year’s 41-38 thriller that saw the Panthers rack up 400 yards of offense.
While the Mustangs have dominated of late and Providence coach Brad Bowles has never beaten Myers Park, he’s been close.
The Panthers have won six of the past 10 games in the series, and only one of the past seven games has been decided by more than 10 points.
And Chadwick expects another battle when the teams clash Aug. 31 at Providence.
“It doesn’t matter what our records are, it always seems to be close,” Chadwick said. “I think in three of the four games we’ve played them, it’s come down to basically the last drive of the game, and I wouldn’t expect it to be any different this week.”