By Emmanuel Morgan                 

   CORNELIUS - Hough High’s football team remains a force to be reckoned with after its 37-14 victory against North Mecklenburg on Nov. 1. Hough improved to 9-1 overall and 5-1 in MECKA 4A conference play. North Mecklenburg fell to 4-6 overall and 2-4 in conference play.

                  “Our boys came out ready to play, and this led to our victory tonight,” Hough coach Bobby Collins said.

                  Expectations are higher than they have ever been for the Huskies as they work toward a state championship in only their fourth year. With a 9-1 record, and momentum in their favor, Hough should have a high seed in the state playoffs. The same cannot be said for North Mecklenburg. Injuries, and disappointment describe the Vikings’ season.

                  After an impressive drive, Hough’s Tylan Murrell punched the ball in for a two-yard touchdown with seven minutes, 19 seconds left in the first quarter.

 A North Mecklenburg fumble gave the Huskies excellent field position. With about two minutes left in the quarter, senior quarterback Josh Stilley completed a five-yard touchdown pass to senior Carl Tucker for a 14-0 lead. Senior wideout Caleb Hines’ 60-yard touchdown reception on fourth down bumped the lead to 20-0.

                  Hough built the lead to 34-0 by halftime after Stilley connected on a 42-yard touchdown pass to Corey Sutton, and a 50-yard score to Carl Tucker.  North Mecklenburg’s mindset altered completely heading into the third quarter. After an impressive reception by Stephen Langford and a facemask penalty on the defense, the North Mecklenburg offense methodically drove the field. Hough’s defense had no answer for Langford, who also had a 25-yard reception.

 Quarterback Polo Dargins’ 20-yard scramble moved the Vikings to Hough’s 1-yard line. One play later, running back William Santiago capped the drive with the one-yard touchdown run.

                  Hough was sluggish on both sides of the ball throughout the third quarter. The disorganization and carelessness led to numerous penalties.

                   North Mecklenburg’s offense finally found its groove. Langford was Dargins’ most productive target, and Dargins showed that he was productive scrambling. An impressive drive late in the fourth quarter ended with a 10-yard rushing touchdown by Santiago. 

                  Despite the loss, the Vikings walked out with their heads high. The student section celebrated their team even after the heart-breaking loss.

                  “We have to show heart even when the chips are down,” North Meck coach Brad Baker said. “This had been the story all year, but we keep fighting.”

                  “We had a couple of stumbles in the third quarter, but overall, I am well pleased with my team,” Hough’s Collins said.

                  Collins was most impressed with the efficiency of quarterback Stilley, who didn’t commit any turnovers, and the receiving corps.  Hough will next play conference foe Vance on Nov. 8, while North Mecklenburg will face undefeated Mallard Creek.