Prep Football: North Rowan 34, Chatham County 7
By Steve Huffman
SPENCER ó North Rowan learned a quick lesson Friday night.
Just because you’re a heavy favorite, don’t expect your opponent to come out and play dead. The Cavaliers beat Chatham Central 34-7, but not before the Bears threw a bit of a scare into them in the early going.
Chatham took the opening kick and on the first play performed a bit of razzle-dazzle before D.J. Johnson unleashed a pass to a wide-open K’Shawn Brower down the right sideline. An 80-yard foot race later, the Bears were up 7-0.
It came close to getting worse for North.
On their first possession, the Cavaliers drove from their own 3 to the Chatham 9. But North fumbled there and the Bears recovered.
In three plays, North dropped Chatham back to its own 1-yard line. On fourth down, Chatham’s Justin Johnson dropped to the back of his end zone, apparently to punt. North had no one deep, instead sending everyone to block the kick.
But instead of punting Johnson passed in the direction of Brower, who this time was standing all alone down the left sideline.
Had Brower pulled in the pass, the Cavaliers would have found themselves in a 14-0 hole. Instead, it barely cleared his outstretched hands.
One play later, North quarterback carried for a 1-yard score and the universe quickly returned to its rightful order.
North (4-5, 4-1 YVC) handled Chatham (1-8, 0-5) without a lot of trouble from there, piling up 305 rushing yards while limiting the Bears to minus-9 yards on the ground. All the scoring was done in the first half and the clock ran nonstop in the second.
“I admire anyone brave enough to do that,” North coach Tasker Fleming said of the Bears’ fake punt. “We’re fortunate we weren’t behind 14-0.”
North’s Keith Reid, a senior defensive end who recovered a fumble in the end zone for the night’s final score, agreed.
“My heart dropped,” he said of the Bears’ first pass and that fake punt that darn near resulted in a second score. “I was like, ‘Man, they’re serious.’ ”
North freshman runningback Malik Jones finished with 138 yards on 15 carries despite being largely relegated to the sidelines for the second half.
Quarterback T.J. Allen, another freshman, did an admirable job running the offense. He had a couple of touchdown tosses, a 27-yarder to Sam Mauldin and a 30-yarder to Sam Starks. Vince Shropshire had North’s remaining touchdown on a 3-yard carry. He finished with 87 yards on eight carries.
North’s Kornell Cook had an interception ó his third of the season ó but admitted that Chatham’s opening drive spooked the Cavaliers a bit.
“They faked us on it,” he said. “They got us good.”
Fleming said he expects quarterback Jesse Rudisell to return for next Friday’s showdown with West Montgomery. He suffered a concussion last week at Albemarle.
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers continue to enjoy a streak where they’ve won four of five.
“It’s all fun and games,” said North’s Starks, who was on the receiving end of that second touchdown pass. “We’re having a good time.”