A capital “D,” but a lower-case “o.”
Mooresville High School’s football team experienced just such a drastic disparity in its defensive and offensive scrimmage lines during the course of its appearance in Friday night’s second-round performance in the N.C. High School Athletic Association’s 4A class postseason play.
The Blue Devils defenders accounted for all their points on a night when the team’s offensive unit never managed to find its groove resulting in a season-ending, 30-14 decision dropped against Jamestown Ragsdale.
The defeat concluded Mooresville’s campaign that was extended for the second straight season as deep as round-two of statewide postseason play with an overall 7-6 record.
Pitting their own No. 6 seed in the NCHSAA’s West Region pod opposite that of the No. 3-seeded Ragsdale Tigers for the opportunity to advance to third-round play, the Blue Devils found the going particularly difficult to negotiate on the offensive side.
Hindering its effort with a rash of untimely penalties, among them one of a severe enough of unsportsmanlike in nature that it resulted in the disqualification of a team member, Mooresville never was able to manufacture any points whatsoever when in possession of the football.
The Blue Devils, coming off an earlier first-round win while refreshed Ragsdale relished the receiving of an opening-round bye, earned some saving grace in large part due to the two-time touchdown striking capabilities of their defensive squad.
Already facing a two-TD deficit following the conclusion of first-period play, Mooresville received just the shot of adrenaline it needed midway the second quarter when junior defensive lineman Frederick Brown gobbled up a forced Ragsdale fumble and rambled 19 yards into the end zone for a score. Accompanied by senior placekicker Isaac Riffle’s point-after kick, it enabled the visitors to cut the difference in half that remained in place at the intermission break.
After surrendering a third-period field goal to the Tigers, the Devils defenders struck again. This time around, senior linebacker Malik Birchett scooped up a Tigers fumble — one of three turnovers forced on the part of the Mooresville defensive unit for the game overall — and returned it 14 yards for a tally. Again, kicker Riffle’s PAT helped the guests close the gap to the 17-14 mark. It was as close as Mooresville would ever get.
Ragsdale scratched for its final two scores to account for the only additional blows landed during the course of fourth period play to reach the game’s eventual winning spread.
In addition to the two fumble returns for scores racked up by both Brown and Birchett, Mooresville’s senior defensive back Justin Torrence also ended one potential Tigers scoring drive with a pass interception of his own.
Despite limited success, the Blue Devils main headway on the offensive front came courtesy of the 79 yards managed on seven carries from junior running back Glenwood Robinson.
The outcome made Mooresville the last remaining member of its I-Meck Conference ranks — where it posted a fourth-place finish during the course of regular season play — participating in the smaller-enrollment 4A class postseason bracket to draw its season to a close. Among the state’s larger-enrollment 4AA class ranks, only regular-season runner-up Vance — a surprise round-two winner over fellow league member and state championship contender Mallard Creek — merits the right to reach later this week’s third-round play.
Mooresville also joined fellow Iredell County entry Statesville in being eliminated from play following a second-round defeat.