Prep Football: Salisbury 24, Ledford 7
By Bret Strelow
WALLBURG ó Dario Hamilton, despite evidence to the contrary, struggled to stay warm during the lengthy break between his first two carries of the second half.
Hamilton rushed 13 times for 169 yards and three touchdowns to lead unbeaten Salisbury to a 24-7 victory at Ledford on Monday night.The Panthers held Hamilton to 31 yards on 10 runs in the first half, which ended in a 7-7 tie. His 70-yard touchdown with 8:36 left in the third quarter put the first-place Hornets (9-0, 5-0 CCC) ahead for good.
Ledford’s offense responded with a 14-play, 54-yard drive that ate up five minutes before stalling at Salisbury’s 37. A false start pushed the Hornets back, and Hamilton sprinted for a 68-yard score on first down.”My legs had started getting cold again, so I had to stay moving on the sideline,” Hamilton said. “It was cold out there tonight.”
The Hornets ran only four plays in the third quarter and seven in the first 15 minutes of the second half, but Hamilton’s back-to-back home runs prevented Salisbury from suffering a letdown one week after it edged Lexington.
The Hornets limited Ledford to 24 first-quarter yards, but a mistake in the first minute of the second period helped the Panthers (5-4, 2-3) jump in front.
Salisbury quarterback John Knox lined up in the shotgun on fourth-and-3 from the Hornets’ 44, and the snap rolled back to him. Kyle Thompson tackled Knox for a 4-yard loss.
The change of possession surprised Salisbury’s coaches, who thought it was only third down.
“We definitely wouldn’t have been in the shotgun ó we thought we had a play to waste,” said Salisbury head coach Joe Pinyan, who accepted the blame. “It was just an old man being stupid.”
Ledford quarterback Cody Williams found Jonathan Reid for a 34-yard completion, and running back Rob Davis scored on fourth-and-goal from the 1. The Panthers had a chance to extend their lead when defensive back Steven Fuquay made a perfect read on a throwback screen, but he dropped a potential pick-six.
Salisbury tied the game after creating a turnover with 5:31 remaining in the half. O’Bryan Graham forced Reashon Farlow to fumble on a first-down carry from Ledford’s 24, and Pierre Jimenez made the recovery. Hamilton reached the end zone on a 5-yard run.Jimenez recovered another fumble in the third quarter, and a crushing hit by Graham enabled Jimenez to make the first of two interceptions that Salisbury recorded in the game’s final two minutes.
Jimenez fumbled the ball away during his return, and Dominique Phillips picked off a pass two plays later at Salisbury’s 2.
“We made a stupid mistake going for the fourth down, and I feel bad for those guys because they played well enough to deserve a shutout,” Pinyan said.
Salisbury was just looking for a win once the second half started.
The Hornets received to begin the third quarter, but Ledford’s Chris Rickard recovered a pooched kickoff at Salisbury’s 36. Heavy pressure by linebacker Stephen Carter forced a fourth-down incompletion from the 22.
Hamilton broke loose for the first time on the third play of the next series.
“When they have all that speed, it’s tough to not have a big play happen,” Ledford coach Chuck Henderson said. “It went to the second half to get it, but Dario’s a good back.
“I can’t say we expected it because you don’t want it to happen, but with his speed, if you miss the point of attack, that’s what happens.”
Trailing 13-7, Ledford took over at its 9 and picked up four first downs while advancing beyond midfield.
Salisbury’s offense returned to the field following a Williams incompletion on fourth-and-5, and Hamilton’s second long run came on practically the same play as the first.
Fellow running back A.J. Ford, who enjoyed success before the coaches attempted to work Hamilton into the mix, delivered an effective block at the 50 and sprinted down the sideline with his teammate.
“We saw some things that were working for us and fed A.J., and I got a little worried Dario might be getting antsy,” Pinyan said. “We tried to get it to him and got away a little bit from our gameplan and didn’t move it as well. Both those kids run so hard, and they want the rock all the time. The good thing is they both block well for each other. That second touchdown, A.J. had a couple of blocks that were just phenomenal.”