By Will Bryan
The yellow and green of the Independence Patriots are an institution when it comes to cold December playoff football.
This year they are in the headlines for the game they didn’t win. The Patriots lost, 30-22, at home in the NCHSAA 4A semifinals to Richmond Senior.
The Patriots had participated in the last eight North Carolina state title games, winning every year from 2000-2006 before dropping last season’s title game. The loss also snapped Independence’s 13-game season winning streak.
Perhaps most shocking was that Independence lost at home. The Patriots have not lost at home since 1999, when former Florida Gator Chris Leak was still just a freshman.
The Patriots owned the nation’s longest winning streak at 107 straight games between 2000 and last year before they dropped a contest to Elder up in Cincinnati.
It seemed that the state of shock worn on Patriots players after the loss nearly took hold in the first quarter.
Independence came out very slow and sloppy, giving up chunks of yardage on the run to Richmond Senior. The Raiders finished with 266 yards rushing on the game while also throwing for 203 yards.
Richmond Senior quarterback Tedarrius Wiley threw three touchdown passes, including a 72-yarder with seven minutes remaining to give the Raiders a 30-12 lead that effectively clinched the victory.
Wiley was most effective when the Patriots tried to stack the box to slow down the middle running attack of Labarrion Jones (who had 69 yards), and the outside running of Alex Ingram (96 yards) and Sammy Houston (57 yards).
For Independence, star quarterback Anthony Carrothers threw for 320 yards on 25-of-36 passing and one touchdown while running for the team’s other two touchdowns. But his efforts weren’t enough.
“I don't think we did anything right, did we?” Independence head coach Tom Knotts told the Charlotte Observer. “We dropped passes, we had holding penalties. We got beat at the corners. We just didn't click. Richmond is an excellent team, with a great scheme. They know how to win.”
Independence made a ferocious comeback in the second half, but they weren’t able to make plays.
“We gave up too many plays on big downs,” cornerback Victor Hampton said.
Richmond Senior will play in its first state title game since 1998.
Fayetteville 71st 27, South Mecklenburg 6
South Mecklenburg was not comforted by the fact that they made it much deeper into this year’s playoffs than anyone said they could. The Sabres barely made the playoffs this year at 6-6 but ran off three straight wins to earn a berth in the 4A state semifinal.
Senior Tim Palmer, South Meck’s leading rusher, was held to just 28 yards on 12 attempts after averaging over 112 yards a game.
The Sabres gave up 112 yards and three rushing touchdowns to Fayetteville 71st’s Maurice Scruggs.
Will Bryan covers the Charlotte, N.C., area for MaxPreps. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.