Prep Football: Salisbury 16, West Davidson 8
By Mike London
TYRO ó Salisbury finally beat West Davidson, but it exited Glosson Stadium battered, bruised and a little lucky.
Salisbury’s defense was great, kicker Frankie Cardelle was smart, and the offense did just enough in a 16-8 victory over the Green Dragons, who save their best for SHS.
“They played us physical and they played us hard,” Salisbury back A.J. Ford said. “And they’ve got great coaching.”
Five-time CCC champion Salisbury (7-0, 3-0) broke a three-game losing streak to the Green Dragons, who gang-tackled and limited the high-powered Hornets to 112 yards on the ground.
“This game was so big,” said Salisbury safety Dominique Phillips, who sealed the win with a late interception. “It had been so long since we beat West Davidson. This was for all our teams that didn’t.”
This week’s film study may show Salisbury’s game-turning 82-yard touchdown on a hook-and-ladder play was an illegal forward lateral, but the Hornets will take it.
“Our kids executed well on that little hitch-and-pitch play and maybe we finally did get a break against those guys,” Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan said. “What I’m excited about is we faced a lot of adversity and played through it. And when you can play through adversity, you have a chance to be a champion.”
The first half was a ball-control and defense clinic by the Green Dragons (4-3, 2-1) who kept the Hornets in miserable field position. James McCandies’ 25-yard TD pass to Jon Jarvis early in the second quarter gave WD a 6-0 lead.
With 5:17 left to play in the first half, Cardelle made a prudent decision when the ball was snapped over his head on a punt and rolled to the SHS 10. He kicked the ball through the end zone. West Davidson picked up a safety, but it would have been in position for an easy touchdown if Cardelle hadn’t reacted quickly.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever had to do that, but it’s what we’re coached to do,” Cardelle said. “Give them two, but not six, and keep playing. There was a lot of time left.”
When West Davidson stoned Dario Hamilton on back-to-back power plays with two minutes left in the half, Salisbury faced third-and-12 at its 18.
That’s when QB John Knox threw to Romar Morris, who made the catch at the 30 and immediately shoveled the ball to Ford, who was streaking down the sideline. Barnes was standing a few feet away from Ford when he took the lateral and was certain the ball was pitched forward, but he took the high road.
“We know Salisbury runs that hook-and-ladder, but they still made the play,” he said.
Ford saw nothing but grass and was gone.
The third quarter was even.
Salisbury put one solid drive together, but when the Hornets missed a blocking assignment on fourth-and-1 a the WD 30, linebacker Brandon Hill stuffed Hamilton for no gain and a lot of momentum.
Salisbury still trailed 8-6 early in the fourth quarter when Martin Hosch-Cathcart recovered a muffed punt at the West Davidson 25. Three plays later, it was fourth-and-1, and Pinyan called on Cardelle for a 32-yard field goal. Cardelle drilled it for a 9-8 lead.
“The kicker can make it or break it,” Cardelle said. “It felt good they had that much faith in me, and I knew I had to make it.”
Salisbury sniffed out a faked punt and gained possession at the West Davidson 26.
With 3:33 left, Hamilton roared through the widest hole he saw all night for a 16-yard score. Cardelle’s PAT made it 16-8, but the Dragons still had a chance to force overtime with a TD and two-point conversion.
McCandies drove his team to the Salisbury 24 with 43 seconds left, but he was intercepted by Phillips, who gave his coaches a scare when he fumbled on the return. He fell on the ball and clutched it tightly to his chest.
“They had trips, and I’m supposed to cheat toward the trips side,” Phillips said. “I was right there for the pick.”
West Davidson probably played its best game of the year, but Salisbury survived.
“Everyone knows Salisbury’s got a potent offense,” Barnes said. “But that defense is good too. They’re big upfront and they can run.”
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