Prep Football: North Rowan 40, East Montgomery 12
By Bret Strelow
BISCOE ó North Rowan, still sporting an unblemished league record, boarded the team bus in advance of another lengthy ride home.
With the Cavaliers tied for first place in the YVC following a 40-12 victory at East Montgomery on Friday, sitting in the driver’s seat suited coach Tasker Fleming just fine.
“The kids can sing on the way home and keep me awake because I’m driving,” Fleming said.
North Rowan (2-4, 2-0) led 32-0 after three quarters, and East Montgomery (3-2-1, 1-1) returned two fumbles for long touchdowns in the final nine minutes.
The Cavaliers opened conference play last week at South Stanly, which is 46 miles from Spencer, and won 16-14. East Montgomery and North Rowan are separated by 64 miles.
“It feels good after a win; it feels shorter when you’re winning,” said Javon Hargrave, who returned a third-quarter fumble for a touchdown and had 21/2 sacks.
Cameron Mallett (100 yards with two TDs), Malik Jones (99 yards) and Vince Shropshire (95 yards with two TDs) helped the Cavs amass 347 yards on the ground.
They limited the Eagles to minus-55 yards on 28 official carries and minus-22 yards of offense. Sixteen of East Montgomery’s 38 plays lost yardage.
“I think we played pretty good,” linebacker Darrius Jackson said. “We executed on all cylinders.”
North kicked off to open the game, and Jackson rushed downfield to make a tackle at the 17-yard line.
With Wesley Maynor starting at quarterback in a “Wildcat” formation, a fumbled pitch cost the Eagles 12 yards on first down. North’s Dominique Meade made a stop for a 2-yard loss, and Maynor gained 9 yards on a keeper before fumbling the ball away to Eric Robinson.
Mallett’s 12-yard touchdown run on the Cavaliers’ first snap from scrimmage instilled confidence.
“It boosted it up severely,” Mallett said. “The offensive line blocked very, very well. They were opening huge holes. It didn’t matter who was out there.”
A 21-yard punt return by Mallett gave North a short field midway through the second quarter, and he gained 21 more yards on a first-down carry. Jesse Rudisell scored on a 9-yard quarterback sneak.
The Cavs caught a break when a lateral pass hit the ground on their next series. East Montgomery’s Chris Everett alertly grabbed the loose ball and ran untouched for a 46-yard TD, but a block in the back negated the score.
The Eagles reached North’s 19 and then retreated 26 yards because of three consecutive losses, including two sacks by Hargrave.
He split a double-team on third-and-32 and forced a fumble while crushing quarterback Aaron Taylor from behind. North’s Terry Allen made the recovery.
“They called a blitz, and it set me free from the inside,” Hargrave said. “I went to go get it and made a play.”
The Cavaliers broke the game open by scoring twice in the first 77 seconds of the third quarter.
Operating from the Eagles’ 41, Mallett took a handoff on the second play of the half and sprinted around right end. He made a 360-degree spin to shake loose from a tackle at the 25 and continued toward the end zone.
A high snap sailed over Taylor’s head to begin East Montgomery’s next series, and the ball bounced off a few fingertips before Hargrave scooped it up. His 32-yard return pushed North ahead 26-0.
“The defense played well, and I’m pleased with the team’s progress,” Fleming said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, but it was a good week to get one step closer.”
NOTES: Both of Shropshire’s touchdown runs came in the second half. … East Montgomery’s defensive touchdowns covered 55 and 50 yards. … Cornell Cook intercepted a pass for North. … Each team fumbled eight times and lost four of them. Pierre Givens (onside kick) and Desmond Turner had North’s other recoveries.
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