DURHAM - Saturday's NCHSAA 3A state championship football game turned out to be all about the run - one team's ability to do it and one's inability to.
While snowflakes fell for the duration of the game, there was nothing soft on the field as both teams tried to assert themselves in the trenches.
The Havelock Rams were trying to win their fourth state title of the decade but fell to Charlotte Catholic, 28-14.
Charlotte Catholic utilized its run game led by backs Milan Howard and Lamagea McDowell to pound out 272 rushing yards for the game.
While the Cougars were burning up the field on the ground, Havelock's rushing attack was held to just 67 yards.
"They didn't let us get the ball enough," Havelock coach Caleb King said on why the Catholic defense held the Rams' rushing attack down.
Catholic did dominate the time of possession, 31 minutes to 16.
"They did a really great job limiting our possessions and taking the air out of the ball and sustained long drives that they scored on," King said.
"They have a great program and there's a reason they are 16-0 so you have to tip your hat to them."
When Havelock's defense did bow up a bit, Catholic went for and got it in fourth down, converting four of five fourth downs.
Catholic head coach Mike Brodowicz said owning that time of possession and playing that style of football is what his team had to do to win.
"We knew we had to keep them in front of us and make them earn everything," Brodowicz said.
"Our starting defense has done it all year though but we use our ball control and offense as a form of defense as well."
The Rams got a stop, aided by some Catholic penalties at the end of the first half that had the scoreboard 13-7 in favor of the Cougars.
Havelock kept Catholic off the board in the third quarter and took the lead on a 27-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Zach Sabdo to Welton Spottsville.
That play was Havelock's biggest play of the game in terms of yardage.
Havelock is an offense that is used to ripping off 50, 60, 70-plus yard plays.
"We just made sure to get as many guys to the ball as we could," Catholic senior linebacker Chase Foley said.
"We felt good and knew we had the momentum if we could get the stops we got on fourth downs."
As well as Catholic converted the fourth downs, Havelock came up short on two that turned out to be crucial, both stops on Ram run atempts.
Sabdo was named Most Outstanding Offensive Player of the Game for Havelock as he threw for 207 yards with a touchdown.
Welton Spottsville received the Most Outstanding Defensive Player of the Game award for Havelock.
Catholic running back Milan Howard was named Most Valuable Player with 160 rushing yards on the game.
"They weren't really coming up to hit us 100 percent," Howard said of the Havelock defense.
"I felt like the more I could lower and run over them, the less they would want to come up and hit."
Havelock senior Solomon Beligotti said that the difference in the game was the Catholic offensive line.
"It wasn't the running backs, it was the line," Beligotti said.
"They were the best O-line we had seen all year."
The loss concludes Havelock's season with a 14-2 record and Charlotte Catholic finishes 16-0.
Charlotte Catholic 7; 6; 0; 15; 28
Havelock 7; 0; 7; 0; 14
CC - Michael Neel 5 pass from Christopher Walton (George Griggs III kick)
H - Khalil Barrett 2 run (Christian Hoomana kick)
CC - Walton 1 run (kick failed)
H - Welton Spottsville 27 pass from Zach Sabdo (Hoomana kick)
CC - Lamagea McDowell 5 run (McDowell run for 2-point conversion)
CC - McDowell 2 run (Griggs III kick)
Total Offense 340 274
First Downs 26 16
Rushes-Yards 58-272 26-67
Passing Yards 68 207
Comp-Att-Int 6-11-1 16-21-0
Turnovers 1 0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 5-48 4-37
Passing: Havelock - Zach Sabdo - 16-for-21 for 207 yards (TD). Charlotte Catholic - Christopher Walton - 6-11 for 68 yards (TD, INT).
Rushing: Havelock - Cameron Hutchinson - 10 carries for 30 yards, Khalil Barrett 11-26, Justin Hoover 2-11, Welton Spottsville 2-6. Charlotte Catholic - Milan Howard - 29-160, Lamagea McDowell 18-63 (2 TD), Michael Neel 9-54, Walton 2-(-5) (TD).
Receiving: Havelock - Wel. Spottsville 3 receptions for 66 yards (TD), Barrett 4-57, Tyler Hundley 3-50, Hutchinson 6-34. Charlotte Catholic - Garret McKernan 2-31, Howard 2-20, Neel 2-17 (TD).
Jordan Honeycutt can be reached at 252-635-5670 or at email@example.com