APEX — Middle Creek took a while to get going against Wilmington Laney on Friday night. But once the Mustangs cranked up their offense, they lit up the scoreboard.
Down 14-0 at the end of the first quarter, the Mustangs scored 31 straight points and went on to post a 31-21 victory in the first round of the NCHSAA Class 4AA playoffs.
Quarterback David Salmon passed for 201 yards and a pair of touchdowns and Naylaan Lopez rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown to spark the Mustangs comeback.
We just had to stay positive, Salmon said. Laney was a good football team and when you get down 14-0 its tough to overcome, but we just tried to execute our plays and do our thing.
Our guys did a good job of that. We stayed positive, stayed focused and upbeat on the sidelines and it worked out for us.
Middle Creek (11-1), the No. 2 seed in the 4AA East playoff pod, advanced to a meeting with No. 3 seed Leesville Road (11-0) next week at Middle Creek. Laney, the No. 7 seed, finished the season 5-6.
We got down early to a good football team, Middle Creek coach Mike Castellano said. Our thing was, you know, they were going to come out and punch us early. We had to be able to punch back.
The Mustangs packed plenty of punch after Laneys 14-0 start.
Middle Creek scored on the first play of the second quarter when Devone Johnson plunged in from the 1 to complete a 61-yard drive. After forcing a punt, the Mustangs drove 51 yards in eight plays. Salmon completed a 4-yard TD striketo Gabe Cooper and the score was tied at 14-14.
It stayed that way until the second half, when Middle Creek took charge.
The Mustangs scored points on three of their first four possessions of the half while shutting down Laney to go up 31-14.
We adjusted a little bit on defense, Castellano said. We lined up a little differently, slanted a little differently. Our coaches and players did a good job of making some adjustments on the fly.
Middle Creek drove 70 yards on its first possession of the second half, with Lopez scoring from the 8-yard line to put the Mustangs up to stay.
Chris Hui kicked a 20-yard field with 11:08 left in the game to put the Mustangs up 24-14 and Salmon hit Jay Schuller on a 50-yard back-breaker with 7:20 remaining to give Middle Creek a 31-21 advantage.
Salmon, who completed 17 of 25 passes, pushed his season totals to 2,978 yards passing with 34 touchdowns.
"Our line did a good job of protection all night and our wide receivers worked hard, Salmon said.
And once the Mustangs offense started doing its thing, it was simply too much for Laney to handle.