With Mooresville leading 35-7 heading into the fourth quarter, and 42-7 early in the fourth quarter, there didn’t appear to be much hope for Hickory Ridge in the Deer Park Water Cabarrus County game of the week Friday.
But the Ragin’ Bulls weren’t finished.
After a Hickory Ridge sequence that included a touchdown, blocked punt and back-to-back onside kick recoveries after scores, Mooresville started to get worried.
It wasn’t until a failed fourth-down attempt with no timeouts remaining for Hickory Ridge that Mooresville head coach Joe Nixon could breathe a little easier. Mooresville, No. 12 in The Observer’s Sweet 16, won 42-35.
“We pride ourselves on special teams,” Nixon said. “They had a series of onside kicks and then the blocked punt. We didn’t execute at times tonight. But hats off to Hickory Ridge. They are a really good team.”
Blue Devils’ quarterback Brody Norman had the Blue Devils rolling in the first three quarters. Despite being just a sophomore, Nixon leans on Norman and trusts his leadership.
“Brody had a really great week of preparation,” Nixon said. “I thought we were able to execute up front and take a little bit of pressure off our running game.”
Norman is taking this game as a learning experience, despite the stress of the fourth quarter.
“I think in the moment it is stressful,” Norman said. “But in the end I think it will be good for us dealing with adversity. Overall we played well and the defense made a big stop in the end. I think it’s good for character-building.”
Mooresville (5-0) has a clear road to the Greater Metro 4A conference title. Both the Blue Devils and Lake Norman are undefeated. The two play each other in the last game of the regular season.
“We are going to enjoy the win tonight,” Nixon said. “We will go back to work Monday. We play a good Providence team next week. We’ve just got to keep getting better every week, that’s what we’ve got to do.”
Three Who Made a Difference
Brody Norman, Mooresville: The sophomore quarterback had two touchdowns on the ground and one through the air. His composure under pressure really made a difference in the game. He didn’t get rattled when the pocket collapsed.
Caden Haywood, Hickory Ridge: The leader of the Ragin’ Bulls offense led the comeback in the fourth quarter connecting on several deep passes. He had a passing and rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Jalen Harris, Hickory Ridge: Harris had the catch of the night late in the fourth quarter. He jumped up over two defenders and came down with a long reception setting Hickory Ridge up in scoring position. He also caught a touchdown earlier in the game.
Mooresville 21 0 14 7 — 42
Hickory Ridge 0 0 7 28 — 35