Prep Football: Salisbury 57, Lexington 6
By Jake Miller
LEXINGTON ó It was only Salisbury’s second play of the game, but Romar Morris’ 66-yard touchdown run and David Simons’ extra point gave the Hornets all the points they needed to win. They added 50 more, just for insurance.
Salisbury handed Lexington its worst defeat of the season Friday night, a 57-6 rout at Philpott Memorial Stadium that was the biggest rout in the history of the long series.
“They just totally dominated us,” Lexington coach Chris Deal said.
Salisbury’s defense held Lexington scoreless until the final two minutes, while running backs Romar Morris, Dejoun Jones and Ike Whitaker hit home run after home run against the Jackets’ defense. Morris had TD runs of 66, 24 and 50 yards in addition to a 59-yard touchdown reception from John Knox.
Morris, whose speed was simply unmatched, finished with 138 yards on only eight carries, while Whitaker piled up 103 yards and Jones added 54. The Hornets only punted twice all night.
“We told our kids this was a statement game,” Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan said. “Lexington has a lot of great athletes. They spread the field on you and they make things happen. We wanted that chance. We wanted our kids to be tested, and they answered the test.”
Lexington quarterback Al Challenger was held to 9 yards rushing and 59 yards passing, while also throwing two interceptions. Marquis Grayson scored the Jackets’ lone touchdown, but he also had two impressive kick returns, the second of which set up his touchdown.
Salisbury’s Darien Rankin and Joseph Figueroa had interceptions, and the Hornets’ Tyree Oglesby and Kiontae Rankin also made good plays on defense.
“I think our defense all along has been what we’ve hung our hat on,” Pinyan said. “We wanted a shutout, but that’s not what’s important.”
On the other sideline, Deal searched for positives to take from the game. He said Lexington knew about Salisbury’s team speed coming into the encounter, but that the Jackets didn’t sit back and concede short gains so they could prevent the home runs. The defense played aggressively but got burned early. Things cascaded from there.
“We didn’t make tackles, and once they got going, they got more confidence and we got less,” Deal said. “We needed something good to happen to us early, but you have to make those things happen and they (Salisbury) did a great job.”
Lexington and Salisbury actually had the same number of first downs ó nine ó as Salisbury relied less on long drives than on long plays. Lexington put together a few drives, but Salisbury defense came up big on several third and fourth downs.
After Morris’ 66-yard score, Whitaker scored on a sweep to the right from 2 yards out after scampering for 52 on the previous play.
After a long Lexington drive ended with a punt, Salisbury needed only three plays to score again. Knox found Morris on a short pass in space, and Morris did the rest, running 59 yards to score.
Jones got on the scoreboard later in the second quarter, taking a pitch to Knox’s left and running 23 yards to put Salisbury up 30-0. Justin Franklin blocked Codie Boger’s punt on Lexington’s next possession, picking the ball up for first-and-goal at the Jackets’ 7. Whitaker took a handoff around right end on the next play, waltzing into the end zone untouched.
Salisbury actually punted on its first drive of the second half, and though Lexington threatened on its next drive, Figueroa made a leaping interception in the end zone while Challenger was under pressure.
The Hornets regained possession at their own 20, and Morris took over again. He broke several tackles and turned what should’ve been a 2-yard gain into a 33-yard pass play, then took a pitch on the left side to score from 24 yards, putting Salisbury up 43-0 at the end of the third quarter.
After Lexington was stopped on fourth down, Salisbury was stopped on its first drive of the fourth quarter for no gain on two straight plays. Then, when it looked the Jackets might stop them again, Knox pitched to Morris on an option and Morris ran 50 yards past everyone.
Dominique Dismuke scored on a slashing 22-yard run for Salisbury to conclude the visitors’ scoring.
Grayson twice returned kickoffs to the Salisbury 20 in the fourth quarter, and kept the ball himself after the second return to score on a 4-yard touchdown with just over a minute left.
NOTES: Lexington travels Central Davidson next week, while Salisbury potentially plays for the conference title next week against Thomasville.
“We welcome that challenge,” Pinyan said. “We’re looking forward to it and I’m sure they are too.”