Hough High School is nationally ranked for a reason, and the Huskies sent a message to North Carolina Friday night:
Hough is going to have a whole lot to say about who wins the 2021 state title later this year.
Hough’s defense dominated a 16-10 win over a Chambers High team that had been a favorite to 3-peat, and still could. The Cougars came into Friday’s game ranked as high as No. 12 in the national polls and were looking to go unbeaten and win the first outright conference championship in school history.
But Chambers ran into the best defense it may see all season.
Hough was fast and made sure tackles, showing why teams have only been able to score 56 points against the Huskies all season.
“It was two great teams,” Hough coach Matthew Jenkins said. “And we made enough plays at the end to get the job done. Our defense played outstanding. Offensively, we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to get more consistent. We had several opportunities to jump on them really, really well, but we didn’t make plays when we needed to.”
Chambers’ defense forced a couple of field goals as Hough neared its goal line in the first half — turning what could’ve geen a 14-point deficit into just six — and it got a red zone turnover to turn away another drive. But the Huskies defense was just as good.
The Cougars were averaging 37.4 points coming into the game and were held to their lowest point total since losing 17-7 to Mallard Creek nearly two years ago to the day Friday.
“They were outstanding,” Jenkins said of his defense. “My defensive coordinator ChaChi Sullivan and the whole defensive staff had an outstanding game plan. We’ll go back and look where we can improve and get better, but I thought they were outstanding on that side of the ball, just like they have been all year.”
▪ Hough’s sophomore kicker Nolan Hauser had 10 of his team’s 16 points with three field goals of 27, 27, and 25 yards and an extra point. Hauser also sailed every one of his kickoffs in the end zone for touchbacks which prevented the Cougars’ better field position off kickoff returns.
“Special teams are important on this team,” said Hauser. “When we get inside the 40-yard line we’re nailing an automatic three points every single time. Coach emphasizes that every aspect of the game is really important, offense, defense and special teams.”
Hough blocked a Chambers’ punt early in the game which was recovered by the Huskies’ Michael Pepe, setting up a first-and-goal inside the Cougars’ 10. Chambers kept Hough out of the end zone and forced the Huskies’ to settle for one of Hauser’s 27-yard field goals.
Hauser’s third and final field goal with ten minutes to go in the contest made it a two-possession game.
“That was huge,” said Hauser. “I kind of went out there like it was any other kick and just tried to drill it, and then kick it in the end zone for a touchback.”
Hough coach Matthew Jenkins was quick to compliment his sophomore kicker.
“Nolan kicked the heck out of the ball tonight,” said Jenkins. “Nolan’s done an outstanding job ever since he started kicking with us as a freshman last year. He works really hard at his craft and it shows.”
▪ Junior running back JT Smith scoring the Huskies’ only touchdown on a 5-yard “won’t-be-denied” kind of run.
“It was a big play,” said Smith of his touchdown run. ”We were down at the time (7-6) and the coaches were telling me we’ve got to get in the box. The offensive line got the push and I had to punch it in. That’s what we practice in practice, making plays and that’s what we did tonight.”
Jenkins said although Smith’s run was short, it was impactful.
“It may have been one of the better runs of the year to be honest with you,” Jenkins said. “The other guys to talk about is Zayvion Turner-Knox (Hough running back) who didn’t have as many carries tonight but did an unbelievable job blocking. Both those guys (Smith and Turner-Knox) are outstanding and complement each other very well”
▪ West Charlotte was 2-5 in Sam Greiner’s first season last spring. Greiner’s Lions are 3-1 after Friday’s 62-13 win over West Mecklenburg, a game that locks up the No. 1 3A seed for the playoffs for the Lions from their split 3A/4A conference. From 2007 through the spring 2021 season, West Charlotte had three years with more wins than losses.
Greiner’s group looks ready to post a winning record this fall.
▪ East Mecklenburg beat Garinger 31-14 Friday in a game that meant a little something to both schools. Garinger, which tried to play a junior varsity schedule this season due to lack of numbers, age and size, had not scored all year. East had not won.
Both teams accomplished something. Garinger got some points and East Meck got a win. Good to see.
▪ Hickory Grove beat South Wake 48-12 Friday and is 4-0 for the first time since 2009.
Friday’s #BIG5 Top Performers
Nolan Hauser, Hough: all-state kicker was 3-for-3 on field goals, all from 27 yards, in a 16-10 win over No. 1 Chambers. He also had an extra point for 10 total points. He also made a 40-yard field goal that was negated by penalty and had a punt downed at the Chambers 1.
DeAndre Hoyle, Kings Mountain: three intercpetions in Friday’s 56-0 win over North Gaston.
Josh Mahatha, West Charlotte: threw seven touchdown passes in Friday’s win over West Mecklenburg. He tied a 14-year-old school record set by Darius Thomas.
Jarrell Smith, Concord: six tackles, a sack and two tackles for a loss in a 22-20 win over Central Cabarrus. His safety with four minutes, 12 seconds provided the game-winning points.
Justin Wheeler, Charlotte Latin: The Hawks’ junior quarterback completed 14-of-22 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 43 yards in the second half.
Queen City 3A-4A
Hough 16, Chambers 10
Mallard Creek 39, Hopewell 0
West Charlotte 62, West Mecklenburg 13
South Meck 4A
South Mecklenburg 30, Berry Academy 3
Butler 20, Providence 0
Charlotte Catholic 17, Independence 6
East Mecklenburg 31, Garinger 14
Big South 4A (NCISAA)
Charlotte Latin 24, Charlotte Christian 22
Christ School 25, Providence Day 21
Rabun Gap 47, Charlotte Country Day 0
Greater Metro 4 4A
Hickory Ridge 45, Mooresville 19
Lake Norman 14, A.L. Brown 13
West Cabarrus 10, Cox Mill 6
Richmond Senior 28, Pinecrest 21
Big South 3A
Crest 35, Stuart Cramer 16
Forestview 24, Ashbrook 0
Kings Mountain 56, North Gaston 0
South Point 42, Hunter Huss 7
South Piedmont 3A
Concord 22, Central Cabarrus 20
Northwest Cabarrus 33, East Rowan 7
West Rowan 55, South Rowan 16
Western Foothills 3A
North Iredell 15, St. Stephens 6
North Lincoln 21, Hickory 6
Statesville 16, East Lincoln 6
West Iredell 16, Fred T. Foard 8
Catawba Valley 2A
Bunker HIll 40, West Caldwell 0
Lincolnton 21, Newton-Conover 17
Maiden 20, West Lincoln 14
Mountain Foothills 2A
R-S Central 41, Brevard 30
Catawba Shores 1A-2A
Mountain Island Charter (3-0, 0-0) at Community School of Davidson (2-2, 1-0), late
Winston-Salem Prep (0-3, 0-0) at Pine Lake Prep (0-2, 0-0), late
Central Carolina 1A-2A
Salisbury 69, West Davidson 6
Thomasville 59, North Rowan 18
South Piedmont 1A-2A
Bessemer City 32, Highland Tech 8
East Gaston 50, Cherryville 14
Shelby 55, Thomas Jefferson Academy 7
Western Highlands 1A-2A
Draughn 42, Avery County 22
Yadkin Valley 1A-2A
Mount Pleasant 42, Union Academy 0
Hickory Grove 48, South Wake 12
High Point Christian 40, Covenant Day 6
Lake Norman Charter 45, Christ The King 8
Myers Park 16, Cardinal Gibbons 13
Nation Ford (SC) 55, Harding 15
Weddington 28, Olympic 0
Anson County 33, Albemarle 0
Cabarrus Warriors 45. Asheville School 34
Chase 47, McDowell 14
Eastern Randolph 33, West Stanly 3
Parkwood 50, Buford 21
Patton 26, Madison 13
Sun Valley 30, Pageland (SC) Central 0
Cabarrus Stallions (1-2) at Greensboro Panthers (3-0), noon
Catawba Valley 2A
Maiden (3-0, 0-0) at East Burke (1-1, 0-0), 7