A pair of 14-point runs to open both halves of the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Division III state football championship game helped High Point Christian handle Wake Christian Friday night.
The Cougars rode those productive starts on offense and a stellar pass rush to a 34-6 victory at the High Point Athletic Complex.
High Point Christian quarterback De’Shaun Taylor ran for three TDs and threw for another, compiling 256 yards passing and 60 yards rushing.
His first two TD runs came in the opening quarter, building a 14-0 lead just seven minutes in. The Cougars (12-1) led 17-0 at the break on a Austin Hendley field goal.
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“They came out well-prepared and really executed,” said WCA coach Stephen Cochran of High Point Christian. “They proved to be champions tonight. The came out in both halves and really jumped on us, put us in catch up mode right from the start.”
WCA was limited to 66 yards of offense in the first half and had two turnovers.
The Cougars took less than three minutes to add to their lead after the third quarter opened. Taylor ran the first in from a yard out, then hit Lance Boykin on a 28-yard corner route for a TD and a 31-0 lead with 9:36 to play in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs got on the board after Hendley’s second field goal late in the third quarter. Nathaniel Williams connected with a wide open Connor Collins on a wheel route up the right sideline for a 20-yard TD. The two-point conversion pass failed.
The Bulldogs finished with 179 yards on the night. It was the first time this season Wake Christian hadn’t reached the 20-point mark in a game.
“We just couldn’t block them up front,” Cochran said. “When you can rush three or four guys and force the quarterback out of the pocket, it changes the game. It’s really hard to play offense against a pass rush like that.”
It was Wake Christian’s first appearance in an NCISAA state title game. The Bulldogs finished the season 9-4.
The Bulldogs will lose nine players to graduation: Adam Jones, John Toler, Evan Disena, Andrew Spain, Andrew Hinton, Evan Woodard, T.J. Lowell, Will Cruikshank and Boone Bishop.
“This is a big step forward for us, a really big step,” Cochran said of the Bulldogs’ season. “Half of our team is sophomores. We’re sad to see our seniors go, but we’re thankful for what they’ve helped us do. … I wanted these guys to stand there and watch that state championship presentation. I want to put in their minds what that’s like.”
Three WCA players were named to the all-state team: Collins, a junior linebacker, Jones, a senior linebacker, and Cruikshank, a senior offensive lineman.