Prep Football: Salisbury 51, North Rowan 12
By Steve Huffman
SPENCER ó The final score was 51-12, which was somewhere in the neighborhood of what was expected.
But North Rowan didn’t back away from anybody Friday, staying within striking distance of a bigger, stronger and deeper Salisbury team for much of the night before finally running out of gas down the stretch.
Not until Dejoun Jones carried in from 3 yards out in the closing seconds of the third quarter did Salisbury take a 35-12 lead, enough of an advantage to finally allow the Hornets to breath a sigh of relief.
“They came at us,” admitted Salisbury quarterback John Knox, who finished 6-of-15 for 156 yards and a trio of touchdowns, but who also took enough of a pounding to be hobbling as he left the field. “That first touchdown, that surprised us.”
The Cavaliers took the opening kick and immediately made it clear they weren’t on hand to serve as anybody’s patsy. On the game’s first play, Cameron Mallett raced around right end for 31 yards and a first down at midfield.
For a short while, things only got better for North.
Three plays later, Cavalier quarterback Jesse Rudisell uncorked a pass to a wide-open Pierre Givens, putting North up 6-0. It was the first score of the season for the Cavaliers (0-4).
But the lead didn’t last. Salisbury took a pooch kick at midfield and needed just two plays to score, the Hornets’ first touchdown coming on a 43-yard toss from Knox to Romar Morris. A two-point conversion on a carry by Dominique Dismuke staked Salisbury (3-2) to a lead it never relinquished, though things for awhile remained interesting.
Salisbury’s second score came after the Hornets recovered a fumble at the North 9. Knox carried in from a yard out moments later. Another two-point conversion, and it was 16-6.
But North’s Sam Starks fielded the ensuing kick at his own 8 and raced 92 yards for another touchdown. Less than halfway through the first quarter it was 16-12.
“I can’t explain why they hadn’t scored this year,” Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan said. “We knew they had some athletes. We knew they’d be up for us.”
The Hornets substituted extensively while North had numerous players going both ways. The wear on the Cavaliers began to show. But on the defensive line, North ó led by Javon Hargrave, Vince Shropshire and Jake Waddell ó put up a fight.
“I thought our kids participated well for three quarters,” said North coach Tasker Fleming. “They platoon and we don’t, but I thought we gave it everything we had.”
Salisbury finished with better than 300 yards of offense, mixing it almost evenly between running and passing. Jones ran 60 yards on nine carries while Morris rushed 14 times for 49 yards. Both players also had receiving touchdowns. Salisbury’s Myles Blakeney pulled in another pass for a score.
On defense, the Hornet line was anchored by Kiontae Rankin while Dominique Phillips and Jeremiah Stockdale snared interceptions.
Penalty-wise, it was a sloppy contest, with North flagged 19 times for 140 yards and Salisbury called 14 times for 150 yards. Several unsportsmanlike calls were assessed, with Salisbury’s Ike Whitaker ejected after one outburst.
“I’ve been in better officiated games,” Pinyan said. “It was real ugly there at times.”
But he said he didn’t want to detract from the effort of either team.
“We had to throw,” Pinyan said. “North’s defense, they bottled us up.”