Cougars excel in third quarter of back-and-forth game
Although the fourth quarter didn’t quite as well as it would’ve hoped, in falling to visiting Metrolina Christian 43-38 on Friday at the Complex, High Point Christian did have a very strong third quarter — particularly on offense — after trailing 22-19 at halftime.
“I thought the opportunities were there in the first half,” coach Steve Lechner said. “So, I don’t think it’s very complex — we just made plays. The plays were there to be made. We had a very promising drive in the second quarter that was killed by penalties.”
Quarterback David Norris connected on a toss-and-run across the middle with Malik Streater for a 69-yard touchdown — his second TD of the game — to lead 25-22. Then, after the Warriors answered in the back-and-forth game, the Cougars scored two quick TDs to take a two-score lead.
Following Geoffrey Walls kickoff return to the Metrolina 35, Norris tossed a pass in the flat to Nate DeGraffinraedt, who ran to the 10. On the next play, Wall, who scored a 64-yard TD run in the first, ran 10 yards for the TD to give HPCA a 32-29 lead.
Two plays into the Warriors’ ensuing possession, DeGraffinraedt, who scored on a 23-yard run in the first, recovered a fumble on a play stuffed in the backfield and ran it 21 yards to give the Cougars a 38-29 lead with 3:55 left in the third.
HPCA outscored Metrolina 19-7 in the quarter to lead by nine into the fourth quarter.
As conference play begins this week for all the conferences, teams begin to look to the playoffs — either in simply making it or putting itself in the best position to make a deep run.
The top three per conference automatically make it, regardless of overall record, and then teams fill in the remaining spaces based on overall record. Generally, among all eight classifications, teams need four — or occasionally five at the highest levels — to qualify.
So far, one team — East Davidson — has five wins, while four — High Point Central, Ledford, T.W. Andrews and Bishop McGuinness — have four win. These teams are almost assuredly in the playoffs. Southern Guilford and Trinity, each with three wins, might need another win or two to be sure.
Southwest Guilford, Ragsdale and Glenn each have two. Thomasville has one, and Wheatmore has none. These five teams are looking to make a move.
Last year, among all eight brackets, 10 teams made the playoffs with three wins, while two made it with two — all but two of the 12 coming in the 1A, 1AA, 2A, 2AA. So, there are opportunities for teams — particularly in the smaller divisions — to make a significant move toward the playoffs.
In the NCISAA, High Point Christian also has two wins. But, because the NCISAA selects its playoffs in a meeting, its route to the playoffs isn’t quite as clear. Wake Christian did get in with two wins last year, and Christ School got in with three the previous year (the first year with eight teams). So, with three games left, the Cougars are on the bubble and could use another win or two to further cement their hopes.