Friday the 13th fiasco

Late turnovers, blown call spoil Starr’s Mill Homecoming


Annika Pepper

Senior Hunter Lawson throws the ball against Chapel Hill. Lawson found great success from the air in the loss, completing five of his nine pass attempts for 147 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.

Ben Barkley, Sports Editor

Coming off a big 28-0 victory over Northgate last week, the Starr’s Mill football team returned to Panther Stadium to take on the Chapel Hill High School Panthers. The teams played close throughout the game, but late turnovers and a blown fumble call gave the Mill its first loss of the season, 28-21.

“You can’t make those types of mistakes against a playoff-quality team,” head coach Chad Phillips said. “We were up a touchdown heading into halftime, but then they scored two times before we could even get a play in. We can’t do that.”

Annika Pepper
Seniors Avery Blair and Scotty Hindy pose for pictures after being named Homecoming Queen and King. The crowning of the king and queen highlighted a week of dress up days, and celebrations that included the parade on Thursday and a pep rally on Friday.

For the first time this season, Starr’s Mill found more success from the air, as they amassed 147 passing yards compared to only 75 yards on the ground. Senior Hunter Lawson completed five of his nine passes for 147 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Sophomore Malachi Townsend and junior Gavin Necessary each had a touchdown courtesy of Lawson.  

Compared to the Mill, Chapel Hill had much more success on the ground, totaling 316 yards. Leading the way was senior Imani Davis, who ran for 128 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown. Junior Rudolph Paul, who ran for 111 yards on 16 carries for two touchdowns. 

“We didn’t compete at all during the whole game,” Lawson said. “We came out good in the first half, but [in the] second half we didn’t play anywhere near where we needed to play.”

The first quarter was slow for both teams, as neither team could make a big statement on the offensive side of the ball. This continued throughout the quarter, keeping the score locked at zero. 

Chapel Hill began to play more aggressively on offense as the second quarter began. This translated into the first touchdown of the game by Jones via a two-yard run, making the score 7-0. Starr’s Mill finally found the scoreboard off a 50-yard pass from Lawson to Townsend, tying the score at seven.

“[Lawson and I] were both on the same connection,” Townsend said. “We don’t throw a lot, but we threw a lot today.”

Toward the end of the second quarter, Lawson found Necessary on a 78-yard touchdown pass, making the score 14-7 Starr’s Mill. As time expired, Townsend intercepted a pass, keeping the score at 14-7 at halftime.

“I’m pleased that we were able to have some success throwing the ball,” Phillips said. “If you can sprinkle in good passing with our run game, we should be able to move the ball extremely well in our region.”

The Panthers of Chapel Hill opened the second half with a quick touchdown, as Paul punched his way into the end zone from the one-yard line to tie the score at 14. On the ensuing kickoff, sophomore Brandon Mathis fumbled, which Chapel Hill recovered. Shortly after, Paul found the end zone on a five-yard run to give the visiting team a 21-14 lead.

Starr’s Mill continued to struggle defensively until junior defensive back Jonathan Higle ran a pick-six 20 yards into the end zone to tie the score at 21 at the end of the third quarter.

Annika Pepper
Senior Ardit Hoti is met by opposing Panthers after a short run. The Panther run game was slow in the loss against Chapel Hill, rushing for only 75 yards.

“I felt I threw the ball much better than I have all year,” Lawson said. “I’ve just got to eliminate the mistakes late in the game.”

Higle started the fourth quarter with another interception, but the Panther offense could not capitalize. Chapel Hill began to slowly march down the field after that, capping the drive off with a touchdown courtesy of a three-yard run by Davis, giving them the lead 28-21.

On the next Starr’s Mill drive, Lawson threw an interception to senior Rasheed Nurridin, setting up Chapel Hill with excellent field position to put the game out of reach. However, Davis fumbled the football shortly on the third play of the drive, but it was waved off by the refs, much to the chagrin of players and coaches. Jones took a knee after that, ending the game controversially with a 28-21 loss for Starr’s Mill.

“We can pout and blame the bad call all we want,” Phillips said. “But at the end of the day, we did not close that game out like we should have.”

Chapel Hill (2-1) returns home next week to host the 0-3 Whitewater Wildcats at 7:30 p.m.

With the loss, Starr’s Mill now sits at 2-1 as they prepare to end non-region play against the undefeated Sandy Creek High School Patriots. The Patriots, who are coming off a 43-7 victory against Ridgeland, will definitely give the Panther defense their first big test of the season. 

These two teams square off at 7:30 p.m. next Friday at Patriots Stadium, where the Panthers found success two years ago.