North pulls upset in final seconds
STATESVILLE — If North Rowan’s football team came here seeking credit, consider its application approved.
The unbeaten Cavs played a statement game at Statesville Friday night, when it rallied in the waning moments for a dramatic 39-33 victory.
“Adversity keeps coming our way,” coach Joe Nixon said after North (3-0) scored two touchdowns in the final 4:05. “Over and over again. And our kids keep finding ways to overcome, finding ways to grind out wins.”
The Cavs can no longer be ignored after stunning the Greyhounds (0-2), a team that won 13 games last season and was a top-10 squad in the state’s pre-season 3A poll.
“We knew they were pretty good and it was gonna be a tough game,” exclaimed winning quarterback Jareke Chambers. “But we just stuck to the game plan and went out there and ran.”
No one did it better than Chambers, the 175-pound junior who sprinted into the end zone for the game-winning score with 7.3 seconds remaining. Making his first start in relief of the injured Alexis Archie. Chambers ran like his helmet was on fire — puncturing Statesville’s defense for 198 yards and three touchdowns. He also completed 11 of 16 passes for another 127 yards and fired a clutch, fourth-quarter TD to teammate Sakil Harrison (7 receptions for 98 yards) that tied tied the score.
“I think Jareke can play whatever position he wants to play,” praised Nixon. “He is a special kid and I love him to death. He played a great game tonight.”
That assessment wasn’t lost on Statesville coach Randal Gusler, whose team coughed up a 21-0 halftime lead in its season opener at Hickory on Aug. 23. “(Chambers) did an impressive job,” he said. “He’s a tough kid to defend. He’s got great speed and open-field awareness.”
That was evident as North clawed its way back from an early 14-0 deficit. Kashaun Coney and Chambers bolted for second-quarter touchdowns as the Cavs pulled within 20-13 at halftime. Trailing 33-27 entering the fourth period, Chambers hit Harrison with a 16-yard TD strike over the middle with 4:05 to play.
The Hounds were in position to put the game out of reach until North’s Kenyon Tatum recovered a fumble deep in NR territory with 2:17 to go and returned it 40 yards to the 43. Chambers, playing fearlessly, immediately spriraled a 29-yard completion to Harrison. Moments later, with the clock ticking to a close, he dropped back from the Statesville 17 and searched for Harrison.
“But nobody was open,” the QB said. “Then I saw green and just took off.”
He picked up a great block from Darrell Taylor and hustled into the right corner, setting off a wild celebration on the North sideline.
“Coach always says if you see a hole, run for it,” North left guard Nick Leverett smiled afterward. “Our team is like five fingers. You put ‘em all together and it’s a fist. Tonight we used that fist to punch it through a hole at the end. We fought hard for this.”