Undefeated Middle Creek will host Greensboro’s Page High in the 4AA East regional final next Friday night thanks to the strength of an opportunistic offense and dominating defense.
The Mustangs exploded in the second half for a 42-7 win over rival Fuquay-Varina Friday night.
After the Mustangs led just 14-7 at halftime, the Middle Creek defense continued to set the tone in the second half as quarterback Dominique Shoffner, and the offense steadily pulled away. Shoffner, a junior, ended the game with touchdown runs of 7, 9, and 10 yards. He also completed 12 of 14 passes for 120 yards, including touchdown passes to Riley Frederiksen and Matt Schmitt.
But it was the Mustangs’ defense that kept the Bengals searching for answers throughout the game.
“To hold a team with that offense to 7 points is a heck of an effort, really amazing. A lot of credit goes to (defensive) coach (Ken) Ray. He had a great plan,” said Middle Creek coach Randy Ragland, who quarterbacked the Bengals 30 years ago. One of his rivals then was Clayton, where Ray, known as “Bear,” played nose guard against Ragland.
“To win a game like this, the defense has to play sound, trust your teammates to do their job,” Ray said. “This is an unsung defensive group that has come a long way.”
Fuquay had just 3 plays go for more than nine yards, first running into a front of George Maya, Robert Robinson and Zayvon Powell, all juniors.
“They played well,” Ray said. “And we were able to let linebackers John Singleton and Michael Russell go wide.”
Ragland added, “Our defensive backs are the strength of our defense but tonight they didn't have to make a lot of plays, because of the front playing so well.”
After the two teams traded early fumbles, the Mustangs cashed in on a short drive with Shoffner scoring from the 7.
Fuquay’s Austin Pluckhorn recovered another Mustangs fumble and the No. 5 seed Bengals (12-2) drove 48 yards for tying touchdown, a 25-yard run by Josh Arrington.
But instead of turning into a classic showdown, No. 1 seed Middle Creek (14-0) took charge.
After the hosts went up 21-7 in the third quarter the game got away from Fuquay as the Bengals found themselves having to go for first downs on fourth down and coming up short and fumbling the ball away on a hook-and-lateral, setting up more Mustangs touchdowns.
Shoffner is just a junior and the Mustangs workhorse running back is sophomore DeAndre Jones, who rushed for 147 yards.
Fuquay finished the game with 183 yards rushing and 9 passing.
The two teams also played for the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference title in the regular season, with Middle Creek coming away with a 17-14 win in overtime. Page, the No. 6 seed, has knocked out No. 7 Richmond County and No. 3 Wake Forest in back-to-back rounds.