by Bill Turner
North Carolina private school powerhouse Charlotte Latin came to Thomas Field Saturday with a clear-cut game plan. Hawks head coach Larry McNulty wanted to dispute the passing options of North Cross quarterback Thomas Weaver.
“We knew the North Cross QB could hurt us if he got to set up in the pocket,” McNulty noted after Charlotte Latin had defeated the Raiders 23-0 in the season opener for both teams. “Our plan was simple-apply defensive pressure.”
Weaver was pressured and chased from every angle while being clearly affected in a 7-for-29 passing day that was limited to 82 yards in the air. On the other side of the ball, Charlotte Latin methodically rushed for 256 yards as the Hawks pulled away in the second half.
The Hawks scored first in the opening quarter and led 6-0 after a blocked PAT. The game settled into a defensive battle as the partisan North Cross crowd waited for the hurry-up, no-huddle Raider offense to come up with a game-turning play.
But, it was Charlotte Latin, and kicker Paul Griggs, that provided the stunner. Faced with a fourth-and-long at the North Cross 40-yard line with the play clock winding down, the Hawks called a time out to presumably decide on punting or going for the first down. When play resumed, on came Griggs to attempt a field goal from 57 yards. The Purdue-bound Griggs promptly booted the wind-aided kick just across the crossbar, putting the Hawks up 9-0 with what was one of the longest successful kicks in Virginia high school history.
“We knew they had a good kicker,” North Cross head coach Stephen Alexander said afterward. “But, I wasn’t expecting that.”
North Cross had its bright spots despite the shutout. The defense played tough against the Hawks all afternoon, including three interceptions of Hawk senior QB Grayson Foster. On offense, newcomer Evan Anderson led the North Cross rushing attack by picking up 132 yards on 16 carries.
“Our defense did a good job,” Alexander noted. “(Chris) Shelton and (Paul) Ross came to play. Our offense just didn’t execute, which was the result of their pressure. When we were still close, we never hit the home run ball.”
North Cross has little time to relax. Norfolk Christian visits Thomas Field Saturday afternoon for a rematch of last year’s VIS Division III state championship game won by the Ambassadors, 29-14.