Cougars get decisive win against Panther Creek.
by Clellie Allen
WAKE FOREST — If there was any doubt that Wake Forest would be able to put together complete offense and defense teams with significant depth and experience, the Cougars put much of that to rest in their 28-14 opening win against Panther Creek High Friday.
The newly renamed Wake Forest High Cougars neatly handled the Catamounts, shutting them out in the first half while putting up 21 points of their own before the break.
In the second half, the Cougar defense wobbled a bit, letting Panther Creek’s offense get into the best field position of the game with a little more than seven minutes to go in the third.
Catamount running back Dorrel McClain, found an opening in the defensive line and carried the ball 13 yards for Panther Creek’s first score of the night.
In the last period, with under three minutes to play, McClain took advantage of a busted defensive play to catch a 44-yard pass from quarterback Brenden Magner and get the second and final touchdown of the night for the Catamounts.
Those two lapses notwithstanding, the Cougar defense was solid. The defensive line held Panther Creek most of the game, allowing little forward movement, securing a sack or two along with generally harassing Magner and providing excellent pass coverage.
Senior defensive back Chris Leonard picked off three passes, including one for a touchdown, in addition to Kendall Massey hugging the Catamount receivers in the back field and breaking up play after play.
“Anytime you can change the momentum of the game, you can help the offense,” said Leonard. “(Also), getting a pick six put us up on the board first.”
“The secondary is very important, not letting them get the big play, not letting the receiver get behind you.” said Lucas of his defense’s efforts. “ For the most part, we did that.”
On offense, the Cougars had a bit of a mixed bag — they were able to secure a 28-14 win over Panther Creek, but in the second half, the offensive line seemed to struggle to protect junior quarterback Mack Moore. Moore took three sacks, including one with just three minutes to go in the game.
Nonetheless, Moore showed himself to be fully capable of both passing and handing off the ball. He completed a 19-yard pass to Brooks Cunningham for a touchdown in the first quarter as well as stepping back and allowing Bryce Love to secure a 44-yard scoring run and then a 4-yard score.
“We’ve just got to keep working and learn from mistakes and correct them. Obviously, we gotta protect the quarterback, that’s a priority of ours, and we gotta do it,” said Lucas.
“You’ve got to look at Panther Creek. They’ve got a great team, great coaching staff and they don’t let up. The players stayed with it and even when we got pressure, they had a heck of a broken play for a touchdown and that’s because those kids didn’t quit.