Carrboro holds off Cedar Ridge 24-18 in Red Wolves’ return to varsity football

Updated: August 25, 2019

It was 65 degrees when Cedar Ridge kicked off its 2019 high school football season.

And that was far from the most unusual thing Saturday.

But back to weather for a moment….65 degrees on opening day? This is North Carolina high school football in mid-August. You’re supposed to sit in the hot late afternoon sun with humidity thick enough to make you beg for your next breath.

Yet by the end of the day on Saturday, it seemed appropriate. Why should the weather on August 24 make any sense when nothing else in the game did either?

Teams aren’t supposed to commit seven turnovers and still win. But Carrboro did. A football fan can go years between watching their team give up two safeties. On Saturday, there were two within three quarters, including the opening snap of Cedar Ridge’s season.

On a muddy, rain drenched day, Carrboro defeated Cedar Ridge 24-18 in the Red Wolves’ first varsity football game since 2017. After not fielding a varsity team in 2018, the Red Wolves returned in a game that was more mud ball than football.

It was Carrboro’s first win over the Red Wolves since 2015. Carrboro (1-0) senior quarterback T.K. Paisant scored the Jaguars’ only touchdown in the first half on a five-yard keeper around right end. Paisant was also the Jaguars’ leading tackler as a linebacker.

Despite being statistically dominated for much of the first half, the Red Wolves still had a drive to potentially win the game late. Senior wide receiver K.J. Barnes had the longest play from scrimmage of the day with a 73-yard catch-and-run from sophomore quarterback William Berger, who was one of many Red Wolves making their varsity debut.

“We had more than K.J. show up today,” said Cedar Ridge Football Coach Torrean Hinton. “We had Jaikel Gibbs show up today. We had a lot of kids in the interior that fought hard. Braxton (Mergenthal) fought extremely hard. We fought all the way to the end.”

Gibbs, a junior who started for Cedar Ridge’s basketball team last year, had an interception and a fumble recovery in the first half.

The tone for the wet and wild afternoon was set early after Carrboro punter Robert Allen pooched a kick to the Cedar Ridge 3-yard line, the first of nine Red Wolves drives to start inside its own 20-yard line. Berger watched the first snap of Cedar Ridge’s season sail over his head and out of the end zone for a Carrboro safety, two points that the Red Wolves spent the rest of the day chasing.

“To play from behind the whole game, and still have a shot in the end, you can’t ask for more than that.” Hinton said. “We obviously have to cut down on mistakes and turnovers. Some of them were influenced by the conditions, but some of them weren’t.”

Carrboro ventured into Red Wolves territory on its first four possessions, but couldn’t muster any points. Early in the second quarter, Gibbs picked off a Paisant pass, only to have Carrboro’s Anthony Mudrow make his own interception two plays later.

That led to Paisant’s 5-yard touchdown run. The subsequent attempt for 2-points failed and Carrboro led 8-0 with 5:46 remaining in the first half.

Cedar Ridge, still without a first down, went three-and-out on its next drive, but Gibbs recovered a fumble off a muffed punt return at the Carrboro 31-yard line. After running back Isiah McCambry chewed up eight yards on a 3rd-and-7, Berger found Brandon Poteat for a 14-yard touchdown pass to narrow Carrboro’s lead to 8-6.

Cedar Ridge botched a punt snap on the first possession of the second half, leading to Paisant finding Anthony Muldrow for a 32-yard touchdown pass with 9:38 remaining in the 3rd quarter.

The subsequent Cedar Ridge drive could have ended early, but Carrboro was hit with two penalties (personal foul and pass interference) on consecutive third downs. McCambry pushed into the red zone with a 14-yard run, then scored his first varsity touchdown on a 3-yard gallop. Cedar Ridge’s attempt for two failed to keep the Carrboro lead at 14-12.

Carrboro backup quarterback Jake Adams found Tim Rogers-Neal for a 37-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter. In the only successful point after touchdown of the day, Adams found Muldrow for a two-point conversion to push Carrboro lead to 22-12.

Two plays later, Berger hit Barnes for the 71-yard score to narrow Carrboro’s lead to 22-18.

The final six minutes didn’t have any scoring, but it sure wasn’t boring. With a chance to take the lead after a Carrboro punt, Cedar Ridge fumbled and Braden Hunter recovered at the Red Wolf 12-yard line.

On a 3rd-and-7 from the Cedar Ridge 8-yard line, Paisant threw a pass that went off the helmet of Red Wolf linebacker Braden Thompson and was caught by Muldrow at the 1-yard line. Right on cue, Carrboro (you guessed it) fumbled the snap, which was recovered by Elijah Whitaker in the end zone.

Starting from its own 20, Cedar Ridge promptly fumbled another snap in the end zone. McCambry raced back and beat Paisant to the ball for another Carrboro safety instead of a Jaguar touchdown, increasing the Carrboro lead to merely 24-18 and still giving the Red Wolves a fighting chance.

On the subsequent free kick, Carrboro fumbled and Cedar Ridge’s Matthew Hinton recovered. On the next play, Carrboro’s Rogers-Neal picked off his 2nd pass of the game.

Cedar Ridge had the last possession to take the lead, but it stalled out at its own 38-yard line as time ran out.

“We have to be better and fine tune some things,” Hinton said. “We’ll get better.”

One Comment

  1. Elizabeth

    08/25/2019 at 8:09 AM

    Great account of Cedar Ridge’s return to football. Thanks, Jeff!

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