Big plays guide North against East
GRANITE QUARRY — As anticipated, North Rowan displayed their big play capability Friday night but also took advantage of some first half miscues by East Rowan. The result was an impressive balanced effort and a 33-16 season opening win over the Mustangs.
A trio of Cavalier juniors provided most of the firepower as North built a big early lead and held East at bay. Quarterback Alexis Archie threw for three touchdowns and ran for another; halfback Jareke Chambers rushed for 147 yards and scored twice; and receiver Sakil Harrison grabbed two TD passes to lead the way.
“Our kids played awesome,” a jubilant coach Joe Nixon said afterwards. “They left everything on the field and they did it with class. I am so proud of my players and coaches.”
North (1-0) used a fumble recovery and a bad snap on a punt by East to spark them to a 20-3 halftime lead. Then a lightning quick strike on a 55 yard screen pass and run by Harrison made it 27-3.
To the Mustang’s credit, they matched North point for point in the second half, thanks to brothers Sam and Seth Wyrick but the deficit was too great to overcome.
“Our kids played tough,” Mustang coach Danny Misenheimer said. “But we didn’t do some things in the first half like we should have. But we just played a good team tonight and my hat is off to North Rowan.”
After an early exchange of punts, North showed their explosiveness in a one play as Chambers sprinted through a huge hole on the right side for a 64 yard score and a 6-0 lead.
The defense set up the next score for North as linebacker Jaquan Boyd broke through and snatched a pitchout away from East runner Max Wall at the Mustang 40. Four plays later the lefthanded Archie tossed a 20 yard touchdown pass to Harrison in the corner of the end zone. Archie then ran in a two point conversion to make it 14-0.
On the next series, an East punt attempt turned to disaster when the snap sailed high over Sheldon Kaminski’s head. It set North up at the Mustang 25 and they cashed in quickly. Archie dove in from three yards out to up the margin to 20-0 with just 35 seconds left in the half.
East (0-1) showed their first offensive spark right away as quarterback Sam Wyrick connected with his brother Seth for a 55 yard pass to the Cavs 20. That set up a 30 yard field goal by kicker Salvador Sanchez as time expired to cut the lead to 20-3 at half.
But comeback hopes for East were quickly dashed in the first minute of the third quarter when Harrison took a screen pass from Archie on the left sideline then broke free for a 55 yard scoring play.
“My other two receivers Darrell Taylor and Cam Sifford threw me some great blocks,” Harrison said. “ So I just knew I had to score.”
Trailing 27-3, East did respond again thanks in part to a personal foul penalty on North. Sam Wyrick rolled right on a keeper from 30 yards out to make the score 27-10.
North scored early in the final quarter as Archie connected with Chambers out the backfield on fourth down for a 29 yard scoring pass to up the margin to 33-10. Once again East responded thanks to a kickoff return to midfield by Wall. An 18 yard scoring connection between the Wyricks made it 33-16 with 7:10 left to play.
East had one more threat with three minutes left when they drove into North territory. But a Wyrick pass was picked off by cornerback Kenyon Tatum and returned 48 yards to the Mustang 27 to ice the game.
“For a first game we did well,” Archie stated, “But we still have things we need to improve on and try to get better.”
North will host Carson next Friday while East will be back at home as well against rival Salisbury.