Prep Football: Ledford 25, North Rowan 8
By Bret Strelow
WALLBURG ó North Rowan established season highs for rushing yards and passing yards. It even took a lead for the first time.
The first win with Tasker Fleming in charge of the Cavaliers remained elusive.
North jumped in front thanks to a first-half touchdown run by Vince Shropshire, but Ledford pulled ahead for good late in the third quarter and prevailed 25-8 in the CCC opener for both teams.
The Cavs (0-5, 0-1) began the season with a 60-0 loss to West Rowan and reduced their margin of defeat the next three times they took the field for a game. They fell 14-6 to Forbush in their final non-conference contest.
“From last (game) to this week is a big improvement, just like we’ve improved from every game,” Shropshire said. “If you look at the tapes from last (game) and the tapes from this week, you can see where we still messed up in some spots, but overall it’s a big improvement.”
The Cavs moved the ball effectively yet struggled with turnovers (three lost fumbles) and penalties (18 for 154 yards). Ledford had 12 penalties for 105 yards.North tossed seven interceptions in its first four games, and sophomore quarterback Jesse Rudisell went 6 of 10 for 85 yards against the Panthers (4-1, 1-0). Rudisell didn’t throw a pick, and Daniel King’s 24-yard reverse pass to Sam Mauldin set up Shropshire’s 1-yard score. Javon Hargrave plowed into the end zone on the conversion try to push North ahead 8-0 with 9:30 remaining in the second quarter.Shropshire, Hargrave, Rudisell and Terry Allen carried the load for an offense that rushed for 165 yards. Shropshire, who broke six tackles on a 32-yard gain, credited the play of an offensive line featuring Josh Young, Emilio Locklear, Travis Honeycutt, Cedric Donaldson and Keith Reid.
“The O-line, they’re the key factor in the running game,” Shropshire said. “Our O-line stepped up, and our O-line got right. They opened holes for all our backs.”
The Cavs moved inside Ledford’s 40-yard line on each of their first two drives, but fumbles ended each series.
When Shropshire scored, North had possessed the ball for 91/2 of the first 141/2 minutes and gained 149 yards to Ledford’s 25.
“It’s unfortunate we only had eight points to show for it,” Fleming said.Ledford scored its first points via a safety and tied the game on a 19-yard run by Rob Davis with 5:50 left in the opening half. North blocked a low-flying extra point.Momentum switched midway through the third quarter. The Cavaliers faced a third-and-9 from Ledford’s 24-yard line when King hauled in a pass at the 9, but a holding penalty wiped out the play. An illegal block pushed North back to midfield, and the Cavs eventually punted.
The Panthers responded with a 14-play, 87-yard scoring drive in which they recovered three of their own fumbles. The march lasted 6 minutes, 33 seconds.
The first miscue set up a fourth-and-4 from Ledford’s 19. A North player jumped offside when members of the Panthers’ punting unit left their stances in order to change formations. Cody Williams completed an 18-yard touchdown pass to Steven Fuquay with 18.5 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Cavs lost a fumble on the fourth play of their next series, and Ledford added an insurance TD with eight minutes remaining. It had lined up to punt while facing a fourth-and-2 at North’s 36, and coach Chuck Henderson called timeout before sending the offense back onto the field. Williams rushed for a 3-yard gain.
“We were going to run that fake punt, and one of our guys was getting his hand taped,” Henderson said. “We ran him out there and didn’t have time. I called timeout because we were missing a body.”