Prep Football: Lexington 48, North Rowan 8
By Steve Huffman
SPENCER ó North Rowan fell 48-8 to visiting Lexington here Friday night, but give the Cavaliers credit, they went down swinging.
After falling behind 14-0, North rallied early in the second quarter for a touchdown pass and two-point conversion. A defensive stand and short punt then gave the Cavaliers the ball at the Yellow Jacket 41, and North drove to a first down at the Lexington 30.
Cavalier fans who have endured more than their share of heartache this season were almost giddy with excitement.
But the wheels soon rolled off the Cavalier Express, with North quarterback Jesse Rudisell dropped at the 38, and the ball eventually turned over on downs.
After Lexington (7-4, 5-2 CCC) scored on a long pass on its next possession, the Cavaliers never seriously threatened again,, They were out-gained 485 yards to 89 on the evening.
North (1-10, 1-6) closed out a season in which its only win came via a forfeit, but Cavalier coach Tasker Fleming said he was anything but ashamed of his team’s effort.
“No one planned the season to go this way, but we never once quit,” he said. “In a sense, it’s good to have closure. We’re bidding eight seniors goodbye and welcoming 35 freshmen. We’re going to wear out some weights in the off-season. We’ll be in a new conference next year and hopefully have a new attitude.”
The Cavaliers looked like anything but a down-in-the-dumps bunch at the conclusion of Friday’s game. They gathered under the goalpost close to the field house, hugging and laughing as if they’d just finished a perfect season.
As anyone who has been through a similar situation can attest, the bonds developed over the course of a season are strong, even if the end result isn’t everything desired.
“We worked hard all season,” said Greg Melton, a junior tight end who snared an 18-yard reception on the Cavaliers’ scoring drive. “We’re going to thank the seniors for all they did, then start fresh in two weeks.”
Rudisell, North’s sophomore quarterback, was hoarse at game’s end and undoubtedly sore from the pounding he took. But he still seemed anything but down.
“Hopefully, we’re going to bounce back next year,” he said. “It takes time to grow as a team with a new coach. This has been a learning experience for us, but we’ve had a lot of fun.”
Rudisell completed his first four passes Friday, with three of the strikes hauled in by senior Lathan Charleston. Rudisell also broke a key run during the Cavaliers’ scoring drive, rolling to his left before racing 24 yards to a first down at the Yellow Jacket 11.
A couple of plays later, Rudisell connected with Charleston for a 9-yard touchdown. Rudisell’s pass for two points was hauled in by Darius Jackson, pulling North to within 14-8.
“They scared us,” Lexington coach Chris Deal said. “I was very impressed. They never once gave up. They’re going to turn this thing around. Tasker and his bunch are going to be OK.”
North’s inability to stay close in the second half came in part because Charleston had to be taken to the hospital to be examined for a possible stress fracture. Vince Shropshire, a junior running back, was also injured, never returning after the break.
North’s defense was on the field almost constantly and turned in some big plays. Daniel King snared two interceptions and Cedric Donaldson, Javon Hargrave, Terry Allen and Dominique Meade hounded Lexington quarterback Teland Todd throughout the night.
Lexington’s Chris Bush finished with 124 yards on nine carries, all but one of those carries coming in the second half. Deal said Bush surpassed the 2,000-yard mark for the season and also broke the school’s single-season rushing record.