It was a season of record breaking performances. It was a season of exciting, high scoring games. It was a season where NC had their first winning record in 33 years. It was a season that will be remembered for a long time. It was a season that ended too soon. NC’s football season came to an end Friday night as they fell to Mooresville 42-35 in second round sectional action here at Neal Field on a cold, rainy evening. Mooresville took the lead with 1:17 left in the game for the first time and NC couldn’t get in the end zone as the game ended. NC finishes the season 6-5, their first winning season since 1984.
Mooresville received the kickoff and fumbled, which was recovered by Travis Reeves on the 22 yard line. After 3 Gage Burk runs got the ball to the 1 yard line, QB Niah Williamson snuck it over for the TD. Carter Brown added the PAT and it was 7-0 NC. MHS fumbled the kickoff again, and NC looked like they had recovered, but a Mooresville player ripped it out of the hands of an NC player at the bottom of the pile. MHS moved the ball, but Luke Bumbalough stepped in front of a MHS pass and NC took possession. After an NC punt, MHS scored on a 54 yard screen pass and added the pat to tie it at 7. NC then went 80 yards, including a 39 yard Bumbalough run, and Williamson snuck it over again from the 1 as Brown hit the PAT and it was 14-7 NC after 1.
Mooresville scored on the first play of the second quarter on a 70 yard TD pass and it was tied at 14 with 18 seconds gone. NC and MHS traded punts, when NC mounted an 11 play 68 yard drive, culminated in a Williamson to Bumbalough 7 yard pass for the TD. Williamson had hit Triston Chesher for 27 yards on 4th and 3, keeping the drive alive. Brown hit the PAT and it was 21-14 NC. MHS answered quickly and scored on a 26 yard TD run to tie it at 21. NC had to punt and MHS was moving the ball near the end of the half, when Bumbalough got his second INT of the game to stop their drive and take us to half tied at 21.
NC got the ball to start the 3rd quarter and marched 80 yards in 12 plays as Bumbalough ran it in from 12 yards out. Williamson had hit Chesher for 15 yards on 3rd and 13, and Nicholas Grieser for 8 on 3 and 5 to keep the drive alive. Brown added the PAT and NC led 28-21. MHS responded quickly, scoring on a 32 yard TD pass to tie the game at 28. NC received the kickoff and moved it 80 yards in 9 plays for a TD, as Williamson hit Chesher on a back shoulder 13 yard pass. During the drive, Williamson hit Grieser for 15 yards on 3rd and 9, Chesher for 32 on 3rd and 13, and Bumbalough had a 20 yard rush. Brown hit the PAT and it was 35-28 going to the 4th.
At the start of the 4th quarter, MHS scored from 1 yard out to tie the game. NC then had a punt blocked and MHS recoverd on the NC 20 yard line. On 3rd and 7, Stephen Spears blitzed and sacked the QB for a 9 yard loss. MHS tried a 40 yard FG, but it was wide left and NC got the ball. NC took possession and gained 3 first downs, including a 3rd and 10 that Grieser caught, spun, and lept forward, gaining 11. The drive ended in a punt, and Gage Burk hit a beauty, knocking it out of bounds at the MHS 5 yard line with only 2:48 left. On the first play, MHS threw a 5 yard out, that the receiver turned into a 75 yard gain. MHS ran it in with 1:17 left and for the first time all game, led the game 42-35. NC took possession, but couldn’t get into the end zone, as Williamson’s last pass fell incomplete.
For the game, Williamson was 22-44 for 244 yards and 2 TDs, also rushing for 2 TDs, both from a yard out. Bumbalough had 8 catches for 59 yards and a TD, and also ran the ball 13 times for 115 yards and a TD. Chesher had 8 catches for 135 yards and a TD, Grieser 4 for 43 yards, Tytus Ragle 1 for 4, and Gage Burk 1 for 3. Burk also ran the ball 9 times for 30 yards.
Defensively, Stephen Spears forced a fumble, had a sack, and accumulated 11 tackles. Bumbalugh had 2 INT’s, a pass defended and 5 tackles. Grieser had a forced fumble, 3 passes defended, and 7 tackles. Dalton Hicks and Trenton Williams had 7 tackles and Chandler Marcum 6. Travis Reeves had a fumble recovery on the opening kickoff and 4 tackles.
It was a season for the ages, and it ended too soon. Williamson passed for 4,056 yards (3rd most in state history) accounting for 53 TDs (45 passing) Bumbalough had 107 catches for 1,810 yards and 27 receiving TDs which set a new state record. Both Luke and Niah broke all the school records for season and career. Chesher had 76 catches for 1,164 yards and 8 TDs, Grieser 42 catches for 530 yards and 6 TDs, and Tytus Ragle 35 catches for 305 yards and 2 TDs. Carter Brown was 57-58 on extra points and 5-7 on field goals, scoring 71 points this season. NC scored 61 TDs this year, becoming the highest scoring team in NC history.
Defensively, Grieser led in tackles with 121, Spears had 109, Dalton Clouse had 88, including 9 tackles for loss, Trenton Williams had 83, Travis Reeves 70, and Caleb Pierce 11 tackles for loss. Grieser and Mason Hardwick had 3 interceptions, and Grieser and Dylan Beck both had a pick 6.
Finally, we would like to thank our seniors who played their last game Friday: Austin Bodenhamer, Carter Brown, Niah Williamson, Travis Reeves, Bryton Tuttle, Bryce Pinkard, Dalton Clouse, Garrett House, Caleb Pierce, Dalton Hicks, Evan Hosea, and Tommy Witham. You men have meant the world to this team and the program. You will be forever known as the seniors on the team that stopped the losing season streak. Your leadership and dedication will not be forgotten and you have inspired the next generation of Trojan Football players. We love you guys. We will always be family.