STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 7: A football with a Penn State logo sits on the field before the game between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Maryland Terrapins at Beaver Stadium on November 7, 2020 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Charlotte Christian beat Rabun Gap 27-21 Friday night at home to win its fourth straight N.C. Independent Schools Division I state championship.

The Knights (5-1) won their first state championship in 1992 and won their second since 2008.

But in the past 12 years, Christian has won eight, including seven in the past nine years.

And Friday’s win vaulted Christian into some elite company.

In Mecklenburg County history, Independence won seven straight N.C. 4A state championships from 2000-07. Mallard Creek won three in a row from 2013-15, and Charlotte Catholic has won the past three N.C. 3A state championships.

The Cougars will have a shot at fourth when N.C. public school football returns in February.

In the private schools, Charlotte Country Day has 16 football state championships, including four in a row from 1981-84.

On Friday, the Knights got off to a great start. Charlotte Christian sophomore Cade Nicholson forced a fumble on the opening kickoff and Chip Kasay recovered at the Rabun Gap 25. A few players later, Henry Rutledge scored on a short run — and a 7-0 lead with 9:17 left in the first quarter.

Late in the first half, Henry Rutledge took a run over the left side, with Christian probably trying to run out the clock and ran 92 yards for a 21-7 lead.

Neither team scored in the third quarter.

With 8:48 to play, Tucker Holloway’s 12-yard scoring pass brought Rabun Gap (7-2) within seven, 21-14, with 8:48 to play.

On its next possession, Christian had 4th and 4 at its 39 with 6:46 left. Rutledge punted and Coleman Bryson returned the ball from his 26 to Christian’s 18. A few players later, Bryson scored, running over the left side, tying the game with 4:14 to play.

Christian got a long pass on its next possession — from Matthew Tuomala to Hudson Collins. The 33-yard pass gave Christian the ball at the Rabun Gap 36 with 2:34 to play. On the next play, Rutledge scored over the left side with 2:27 left. The extra point was blocked by Bryson. Christian led 27-21.

Rabun Gap started its next possession at its 12 with 2:20 left. After a couple plays, Chip Kasay got an interception to end the game. Kasay, a senior co-captain, is the son of former Carolina Panthers kicker John Kasay.