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Defense is strong but Chargers lose 14-2

by Larry S. Chowning

Middlesex wingback Sean Lee attempts to elude a Mathews defender.  (Photos by Tom Chillemi)
Middlesex High wingback Marcus Hammond (#34) reaches for an overthrown pass as P.J. Roye of Mathews defends.
The Middlesex High School offense was unable to get untracked Monday night as the Chargers opened its varsity football regular season with a 14-2 loss at rival Mathews.

The game was scheduled to be played Friday night but tropical storm Hanna forced the time change. Several other teams in the area played games on Thursday night to avoid Hanna.

With 9:43 left in the first quarter, Middlesex stopped the Blue Devils on downs and forced a punt. The Chargers’ rush got to the punter and blocked the kick. A Mathews player fell on the ball and was tackled in the end zone by Charger linebacker Craig Connely for the two-point safety.

“Our defense played an outstanding game,” said MHS head coach Heath Cockerham. “We just couldn’t seem to get it together on the offensive side of the ball.”

Mathews answered the Chargers’ score with 4:09 left in the first quarter when Blue Devil running back P.J. Roye broke through the line and ran 80 yards for a touchdown.

The Blue Devil’s second touchdown came in the third quarter after Middlesex fumbled a punt attempt. The Charger punter fumbled the ball and the Blue Devils recovered it at the Middlesex 9 yard line. Mathews then scored on a 9-yard pass play.

“That pretty much sealed the game for them,” said Coach Cockerham. “It just seemed to take the wind out of our sails and the offense . . . well, it just laid an egg the entire game.”

One bright spot in the game for the Chargers was the offensive and defensive play of Nigel Rich. “He was all over the place,” said Cockerham.  “Nigel played an outstanding game.”

Rich ran for 54 yards on offense and had 12 solo tackles on defense. 

Malcolm Ward rushed for 38 yards, and Ronnie Watkins had 8 rushing yards. Sean Lee carried the ball 4 times for no yards.

MHS sophomore quarterback Chuckie Morris played in his first varsity game.  Morris was the Chargers’ JV quarterback the past two years. He had three passes intercepted and completed one pass in 10 attempts. Marcus Hammond caught the pass for 21 yards.

Mathews had 190 rushing yards and 58 passing yards for a total of 248 yards. Roye rushed for 131 yards.

Middlesex had 121 yards of offense with 88 yards rushing and 33 yards passing. The Chargers has six first downs compared to nine by the Blue Devils. 

MHS will travel to Lancaster this Friday to take on the Red Devils at 7 p.m. Lancaster is 1-1. The Devils lost 12-8 to Northumberland in their first game of the season and beat Charles City 40-30 on Thursday night.

“We have a real challenge ahead of us coming off a short week,” said Cockerham. “Lancaster played last Thursday night and will be well rested.”

posted 09.11.2008

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