Ardrey Kell’s football team had several reasons it might have gotten off to a slow start in its season-opening game against South Mecklenburg on Friday night.
The conditions were difficult with a cold, driving rain, the venue was changed from South Mecklenburg to Olympic because of the weather, and the Knights had to shake off the rust from being off because of the COVID pandemic.
But the Knights didn’t waste any time as they reeled off 23 points in the first quarter and never looked back, rolling to a 30-14 over South Mecklenburg.
Ardrey Kell (1-0) took advantage of a bad snap on the Sabres’ first punt, setting it up on South Meck’s 10-yard line.
Three plays later, Ardrey Kell junior quarterback Jack Curtis found Brevin Caldwell on a 4-yard touchdown pass to give the Knights a 7-0 lead.
The Knights went up 9-0 on the next drive as South Meck snapped the ball over punter Zane Davis’ head, resulting in a safety.
The next play, Caldwell took the ensuing kick back 75 yards for a touchdown to give his team a 16-0 lead.
The Knights’ reeled off 16 points in a 2:22 span.
Ardrey Kell scored one more time in the opening quarter, when Curtis found Nathan Francis on a 56-yard touchdown pass.
“We played well (tonight), kind of an ugly win, but sometimes you’ve got to win ugly,” Ardrey Kell coach Greg Jachym said. “Obviously, the conditions weren’t too great, but the kids played hard. We came out and played really well early.”
While South Mecklenburg (0-1) struggled with turnovers in the first half, it played much better in the second half on both sides of the ball.
Sabres junior defensive end Jaden Medlock got his team on the scoreboard, when he recovered a fumble in the end zone with 5:51 left in the third quarter.
South Meck also got a big play from Miller McMurray, when he got behind the Knights’ defense for on a 72-yard touchdown pass from Cam Reese with 1:45 left in the game.
Ardrey Kell tacked on one more score in the second half on Brooks Stankavage’s 2-yard touchdown run.
Ardrey Kell was led by Curtis, who went 11 for 27 for 151 yards and two touchdown passes.
South Meck was led by McMurray, who had three catches for 110 yards and a touchdown.
No matter how it looked, Jachym said it was a big win to start the season.
“They’re are all big, especially this season when you only get seven games, six of them in conference (play),” he said.
Three who mattered
Jack Curtis, Ardrey Kell: The junior quarterback went 11-for-27 for 151 yards and two touchdown passes in a sloppy, wet night, where it was hard to catch the ball.
Brevin Caldwell, Ardrey Kell: The Knights’ senior wide receiver/returner scored two touchdowns in a 2:22 second span in the first quarter, on a 4-yard touchdown catch and a 75-yard kickoff return for a score.
Miller McMurray, South Mecklenburg: The senior wideout had three catches for 110 yards and a touchdown, including 42- and 72-yard grabs.
▪ The Ardrey Kell-South Mecklenburg game was supposed to be played at South Mecklenburg, but because of the rain, officials made the decision to move the game to Olympic, which has a newer turf field.
▪ Ardrey Kell broke open the game early, scoring 23 points in the first quarter on two touchdown passes, a kickoff return for a score and a safety in a seven-minute span.
▪ South Mecklenburg junior Panos Burlos gave his team a spark, rushing for 57 yards on 10 carries in the second half, while also playing outside linebacker on defense.
Ardrey Kell travels to Harding next Friday, and South Mecklenburg hosts Olympic the same night.
Ardrey Kell 23 0 7 0 — 30
South Mecklenburg 0 0 7 7 — 14
AK: Brevin Caldwell 4-yard pass from Jack Curtis (Alex Chillcott kick)
AK: Caldwell 75-yard kickoff return (Chillcott kick)
AK: Nathan Francis 56-yard pass from Curtis (Chillcott kick)
SM: Jaden Medlock fumble recovery in the end zone (Zane Davis kick)
AK: Brooks Stankavage 2-yard run (Chillcott kick)
SM: Miller McMurray 72-yard pass from Cam Reese (Davis kick)