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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Mallard Creek Mavericks entered Thursday night's kickoff classic against Charlotte Christian with a lot of unknowns. Despite winning the state championship last season, Mike Palmieri's squad had to replace a lot of talent. The Knights of Charlotte Christian were also defending state champions last season. Many expected the lack of depth on Christian's sideline to prove to be the difference in the contest, but few expected it to be the primary difference between the two sides.

The Knights looked like the nationally ranked team in the first quarter, when quarterback John Turley found Matthew Weigel diving into the endzone for a 31-yard strike to put Charlotte Christian up 7-0. It took Mallard Creek a while to finally get the offense rolling, as the Knights held the USA TODAY's Super 25 number nine team scoreless for the majority of the first half. The Mavericks finally got on the board just before halftime with a six yard score from quarterback James Smith on fourth down.

Luckily for Christian, the Knights answered with another John Turley touchdown pass. Mallard Creek responded with a score of their own, but a missed extra point gave Charlotte Christian the halftime lead, 14-13.

In the second half, depth started to hinder the Knights. Mallard Creek's offensive line took over the game, allowing the defending North Carolina 4AA state champs to take a 28-14 lead. The Knights tried to give the Mavericks a scare with a touchdown to bring Christian within seven points with just 1:14 left in the game. Christian was unable to recover the onside kick, however, handing the victory to Mallard Creek.

For more high school sports coverage in Charlotte, check out NBC Charlotte's USA TODAY High School Sports page.

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