By Riley Hicks
On the first play of the second half, Chapel Hill quarterback K.J. Burton had the ball soar over his head for it to be recovered by Starr’s Mill’s Coltin Houser at the 5-yard line. The next play, Mitch Prowant of Starr’s Mill took it through the offensive line for the touchdown, and this play allowed the team to extend its lead and never look back.
In the first half Friday night, each team traded touchdowns throughout the whole half. At the start of the second half, the Starr’s Mill Panthers (3-0) began to run away with game, beating the Chapel Hill Panthers (2-1) 56-21.
“We were kind of flat in the first half and got off to a slow start,” Starr’s Mill head coach Chad Phillips said. “We really challenged them the second half to come out and play like the score was zero to zero and play with a lot of passion.”
The first play on offense for Chapel Hill started with an interception, after the ball was tipped and landed into the hands of Starr’s Mill Ryan Cockes. This set up a scoring drive by Starr’s Mill. A few players later Cole Gilley burst up the middle for a 2-yard touchdown, making the score 7-0.
Following a bad punt by Burton, Starr’s Mill had the ball on Chapel Hill’s 24-yard line to start the drive. This led to another 2-yard run by Gilley to extend the lead to 14-0. Chapel Hill answered back quickly, throwing a 78- yard touchdown to Elijah Brown, but the extra point to follow was missed to draw the score to 14-6.
Starr’s Mill went back on offense to score another 2-yard run from Gilley to record his third rushing touchdown of the night to go up 21-6. On Chapel Hill’s next possession, Burton goes deep again but this time to Tyre Shelton for an 83-yard receiving touchdown, and then Burton took it up the middle for the two-point conversion to close back the score to 21-14.
The two teams traded touchdowns again on their next offensive possessions, first with Nick Brown taking it down the right sideline for a 24-yard rushing touchdown. Then Chapel Hill came back with an answer by throwing a 64-yard pass on the left sideline to Myles Leblanc. These touchdowns ended the half with the score 28-21.
At the start of the second half, Starr’s Mill played, as coach Phillips said, as if the score was zero to zero. Following the recovered fumble by Houser, running back Prowant took it in to the end zone from five yards out to stretch the lead to 35-21. The next offensive possession for Chapel Hill, Burton threw an interception to Starr’s Mill’s Michael Burnett. This set up a 4-yard rushing touchdown by Gilley through the heart of the defense, and he ended the night scoring four touchdowns on 92 yards, coming off an ankle injury from last week.
“We got it right at half time and came up pretty good and put together some points,” Gilley said. “My backs carry out the fakes and block for each other and we are all selfless.”
As Starr’s Mill started to run away with the game, the Panthers inserted some back-ups into the game, who put a few more scores on the board. One came from a 7-yard run by Khalen Sims as he cut it to the right to further the lead 49-21. On the next drive, Sims found the end zone again following a 39-yard rushing touchdown after streaking down the right sideline to make the final score 56-21.
The whole second half, Chapel Hill struggled to put anything together on offense by not being able to find the end zone the rest of the night.
“We thought we had a pretty good plan coming into it,” Chapel Hill head coach Justin DeShon said. “We played with it for a half but the second half we melted down.”
Next week, Starr’s Mill will play the unbeaten Sandy Creek Patriots (3-0) on the raod at 7:30 p.m. Chapel Hill will head back home to face the Whitewater Wildcats (2-1), who are just coming off their first loss, at 7:30 p.m.