CARY — Middle Creek capitalized on special teams and defense to shut out Cary 14-0 and capture at least a share of the Southwest Athletic 4A title on a rainy Friday night.
The Mustangs (8-2, 6-0), blocked two Imps punts, recovered two Cary punt muffs, and stuffed the home team’s punter once behind the line of scrimmage.
The special teams blocks led to both Middle Creek touchdowns.
Cary (3-7, 1-5) actually outgained Middle Creek 158-82 in total yards, but the special teams’ miscues and two other fumbles hurt their cause.
Isaiah Herring blocked the first punt midway through the second quarter. Brant Grisel threw a screen pass to senior Curtis Burston, who broke several tackles en route to a 30-yard touchdown with 7:07 left in the half.
Deante McDonald blocked the second punt, setting up a three-yard Josh Drake touchdown run early in the third quarter.
“Special teams really did a good job for us,” Middle Creek head coach Mike Castellano said. “We take a lot of pride in our special teams, and if a guy can’t play it for us he can’t play offense or defense.”
Castellano was also proud of his defense, which gave up 139 yards rushing but never allowed a Cary runner to break for a big gain.
The Imps reached the Middle Creek two-yard line early in the fourth quarter, but a 12-play drive came up empty when a swarm of Mustang defenders stopped Trevion Hackney from reaching the end zone on fourth down.
Middle Creek also forced a fumble in the third quarter, thwarting an 11-play Cary drive.
“The weather helped us a little because Middle Creek is a fast team, but couldn’t exhibit their athleticism that we know they have,” Cary head coach Kurt Glendenning said. “We play so many of our guys both ways, that we challenge them and ask a lot out of them. They never let us down and left it all out on the field tonight.”
Julio Lopez led Cary with 65 yards rushing. Anthony Rush made several tackles behind the line for the Imps, while Yenge Mpongo broke up three Mustang passes, one of which looked like a sure touchdown.
Middle Creek hosts Fuquay-Varina next Friday.