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Independence has 109-game win streak snapped with OT loss

CINCINNATI -- The streak is over at Charlotte Independence --
109 wins and seven years after it began.

Cincinnati Elder ended the nation's longest football winning
streak with a 41-34 overtime victory over the North Carolina high
school Saturday night in the Kirk Herbstreit Challenge.

Johnny Groene threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Josh Jones in OT
for the winning score. Keith Hamberg sealed the victory with an
interception for the Panthers (2-0), who forced overtime with a
1-yard TD run by Nick Gramke with 35 seconds left in the fourth
quarter.

Independence's Robbie Ward missed a 48-yard field goal in the
final seconds of regulation that would have won it.

"We never could stop them," coach Tom Knotts told The
Charlotte Observer. "We had our best on their best, and they made
big plays ... I told our team it was coming, and I hated to say I
told you so.

"We have been living dangerously, this season and last. We
opened the door for everybody. Now it's over. We didn't make plays
or force turnovers."

Independence (1-1) had not lost since falling 34-31 to Shelby
Crest exactly seven years ago, on Sept. 1, 2000, when this year's
team was in elementary school.

During the run, the Patriots -- who have been ranked No. 1 in The
Associated Press state 4-A poll since the beginning of the 2001
season -- became the first team to win seven straight state
championships in North Carolina.

Most of the wins weren't close. Independence had beaten
opponents during its win streak by an average of nearly 35 points
per game entering the 2007 season.

"It is going to be rough for a few days," Knotts said. "Now
we'll go back to work on winning a state championship."

The Patriots shattered the state record for consecutive wins,
breaking the previous mark of 46 to open the 2003 season and
earning their 100th straight win by beating East Mecklenburg in
October.

Independence took over the nation's longest winning streak after
Concord (Calif.) De La Salle's loss in 2004 ended a 151-game
winning streak.