Prep Football: Salisbury 35, West Davidson 0

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 9, 2009

By Steve Huffman
TYRO ó Salisbury laid a first-class whipping on a long-time Central Carolina Conference nemesis Friday, stopping West Davidson 35-0 in a game the Hornets dominated from the outset.
“Those guys are a whole lot faster than we are,” said West coach Dale Barnes. “That’s their biggest advantage, their speed. They run so well.”
It was a turnaround from recent years. Salisbury eked out a 16-8 win a year ago and lost to West in the previous three matchups.
But Friday’s game wasn’t in doubt for long. The Hornets took the opening kick and marched 84 yards in 14 plays, quarterback John Knox carrying in from 13 yards out.
A few seconds later, Salisbury struck again, Jeremiah Stockdale intercepting a pass by West’s James McCandies and returning it 43 yards for the evening’s second score.
The Hornet defense didn’t come close to giving up a score, limiting West to 74 yards of offense and only five first downs.
“We knew we had to prove something to the whole conference,” said Salisbury tight end Riley Gallagher who scored on a 48-yard pass from Knox. “We always expect West Davidson to play us tough. We knew we’d have our hands full.”
In addition to his touchdown, Gallagher also played a role in one of the game’s more interesting plays. In the second quarter he caught an 18-yard pass from Knox, then flipped the ball back to Romar Morris who was streaking down the sideline. Morris carried 31 yards for a score.
The Hornets (4-3, 1-0) had run a similar play against West (2-5, 0-1) last year.
“We work on it in practice pretty often,” Gallagher said of the hook-and-ladder. “We usually use it just for emergencies, but it went perfectly tonight.”
Salisbury was up 28-0 by halftime and largely put its offense on cruise control down the stretch. The Hornets finished with 269 yards on the ground and another 92 in the air despite passing only four times.
That hook-and-ladder covered 49 yards.
“They’re always a good, physical football team,” Hornet coach Joe Pinyan said of West. “They lined up and hit us pretty hard in the mouth.”
Several fans in the West stands complained when Salisbury booted an onside kick after going up 21-0 midway through the second quarter.
Salisbury’s Dominique Dismuke recovered the kick and the Hornets scored on the hook-and-ladder on the next play.
But Pinyan said anyone who says a team is trying to run up the score when only leading by three touchdowns in the first half doesn’t know much about football.
“We felt we had to get some distance between us in the first half,” Pinyan said. “I always tell the kids, ‘If we’re up by four scores, we might slow things down a little bit.’ But if you’re only leading by three touchdowns in the first half, you’d better not ease off too much.
“If we’d kicked it onsides in the fourth quarter, then, yeah, I could understand them yelling and screaming a little bit.”
Barnes agreed.
“The old rule of coaching is, get what you can in the first half,” he said. “I didn’t think Salisbury did anything tonight they shouldn’t have done.”
Defensively, the Hornets were all over West quarterback McCandies, seldom giving him time to set up and throw, constantly forcing him from the pocket.
As a result, McCandies finished with only 7 yards rushing on eight carries and was 3-for-13 in the air.
“I was real proud of the kids,” Pinyan said. “We talked all week about playing with intensity and that’s what they showed tonight.”
Pinyan said Friday marked the first time in three weeks that Knox has played at close to full speed. He injured his ankle earlier in the season against North Rowan.