CHAPEL HILL — It had been a while since East Chapel Hill had felt like winners. Presented with the chance to blow out Cedar Ridge Friday night, the Wildcats looked as though theyd forgotten what to do with it.
But East Chapel Hill held on for a 24-21 victory, its first of the season and first under new head coach John Sherman.
I was really worried when we came out for the second half, he said. Weve never been on top this year were always coming from behind, so weve got to learn to finish games. I was scared of that, and thats what happened.
Cedar Ridge outscored the Wildcats 15-3 in the second half, but it wasnt enough to overcome an East Chapel Hill team, and offensive line in particular, that looked much improved from its first two outings.
The Wildcats went up early 7-0 on a 75-yard drive, but Cedar Ridge answered on its next possession, marching 87 yards in eight plays to set up a Julius Walton touchdown run.
Two drives later, Wildcat quarterback Connor Stough connected with his favorite target, Jack Hankins, on the right sideline toward the end of the first quarter, throwing a long bomb over the wide receivers left shoulder. Hankins took it all the way to the end zone, and East Chapel Hill took a 14-6 lead.
Cedar Ridge intercepted a Stough pass on the Wildcats next drive, only to have the Red Wolves Ben Rice fumble back into the home teams hands. Stough redeemed himself with a scramble away from the Cedar Ridge blitz that ended in a 28-yard bullet to John Graham on the right sideline. The sophomore quarterback snuck into the end zone two plays later to give East Chapel Hill a 21-6 advantage at the break.
Just more than two minutes into the third quarter, Wildcat kicker Ellis Llewellyn booted a 37-yard field goal, his teams last points of the night.
Two drives later, Marquez Hunter picked off another Stough pass. Cedar Ridge capitalized on the miscue with a 20-yard touchdown on a screen pass from quarterback Peyton Pappas to Walton.
Defensively, we just got killed on the screen today, Sherman said, so weve got to get better there.