Miscues, penalties and turnovers made for a frightful Halloween eve for the Charlotte Trojans.
Charlotte (3-2, 3-1) committed 11 penalties for 75 yards, allowed two turnovers and a couple turnovers on downs, and gained just 196 yards of total offense in a 42-7 loss to the D’Hanis Cowboys (6-0, 5-0) in a bout for the District 15-2A DII crown. A win would’ve snapped a 21-year drought without a district title for the Trojans.
Charlotte committed seven of those penalties and both of their turnovers in the first half.
“I thought we were going to be the team [to shut them down] this week,” Head Coach Shawn Vowell said. “And what’d we do? We coughed up the ball. We had a botched snap. We lost our center to grades and I guess you could see that in the first quarter. Halfway through the first quarter and into the second quarter, we made a switch and did a little better.”
The loss came after a three-week lay-off for the Trojans.
“I was all excited for that two-week break, because the first week, we worked on grades,” Vowell said. “But the last two weeks, we focused on nothing but D’Hanis. We played like we did against Runge. We played just like we did in week one against Runge. We put the ball on the field, started complaining a little bit. Look where we’re at, same result.”
D’Hanis’ speed nullified Charlotte’s extensive planning for the district title game. The Cowboys totaled 307 yards of total offense, 269 of which came on the ground.
Cowboy quarterback Jonah Perez rushed for 129 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries while running back Luke Langfield had two touchdowns to go with 77 yards on 11 carries.
“I think we underestimated the quarterback’s speed,” Vowell said. “That kinda got us bad. … We put in two weeks of effort on this team. We knew almost every play that was coming. Every play. We probably missed five, but the problem was we didn’t have that speed and that got us tonight.”
Early on, D’Hanis’ defensive front caused chaos for the Trojans and limited Charlotte to just 104 yards of total offense in the first half. Charlotte only managed 92 yards of offense in the second half and Vowell put the blame on poor decision making.
“I think the defensive front for D’Hanis, in the second half, really didn’t do much,” Vowell said. “Our quarterback [Mario Campos] had time to throw, he just decided to run it. When you’re an offensive lineman and you’re blocking, you can’t see where the quarterback’s going. I think our quarterback made some bad choices. Our offensive line in the second half, when I watch film, I’m not gonna say they did a bad job.”
Campos finished the night with 73 yards rushing and Charlotte’s lone touchdown on 17 carries. He was also 9-of-18 passing for 92 yards against one interception.
Now Charlotte will turn their eyes to Bruni in the final week of the season. The Trojans need a win to lock up second place.
Vowell hopes his team can get the job done in order to set a rematch with Runge. They have to respond immediately to avoid another loss, Vowell said.
“It’s gonna be critical. We’ve been here before,” Vowell said, alluding to their 2018 season. “We went 7-0 and then lost four in a row. We won three in a row and lost this one. I don’t want to lose another one.”
Charlotte and Bruni are slated for a 7 p.m. kickoff on Friday, Nov. 6.