Prep Football: Salisbury 49, East Davidson 7
By Ronnie Gallagher
email@example.com Romar Morris ran for 148 yards. John Knox threw for 209. And every single yard by the two juniors was for the seniors.
“The best senior class ever,” announced Morris, the Salisbury running star, after the Hornets dismantled East Davidson 49-7 in the regular-season finale at Ludwig Stadium on Friday night. “The whole week was for the seniors.”
Only one senior ó Ike Whitaker ó scored against the Golden Eagles but they have made their presence felt this season.
“They’ve taught this program how to play in the big games,” Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan said, pointing to close losses to West Rowan, Davie County and Thomasville. “We wanted to make sure they won their last regular-season game at home.”
It won’t be the very last game at home. The win sealed second place in the Central Carolina Conference for the Hornets (7-4, 4-1) and assured them a home game in the first round of the playoffs.
While 18 seniors were honored before the game, it was Morris, Knox and the junior class that did most of the offensive damage.
Morris scored four times, three on runs of 4, 15 and 44 yards. He enters the postseason as Rowan County’s fourth 1,000-yard rusher. He now has 1,024.
Morris thanked his offensive line, which includes five senior starters ó Phillip Ledbetter, Ronald Phillips, Steven Dale, Joseph Jones and Donovan Bush.
“They’re wonderful, great,” Morris said.
Morris scored the game’s first touchdown on a 15-yard pass from Knox, who was a show-stopper. He threw touchdown passes to three different receivers.
“He had a good game tonight,” said East Davidson coach Bryan Lingerfelt. “He’s improved and he’s leading that team really well.”
Knox’s prettiest pass was pulled in over the shoulder by 6-foot-6 Alex Weant.
Even when he was pressured out of the pocket, Knox made things happen. He rolled out early in the third quarter and launched a pass to Riley Gallagher, who caught the ball on the 37 and loped untouched to complete a 74-yard score. It was Gallagher’s sixth TD grab of the season and made the score 35-0.
Both Weant and Gallagher, by the way, are juniors.
“They were giving us a front we hadn’t seen and it took away some plays,” Pinyan said. “What you’ve got to do is go to other things. We can throw it if we have to.”
Defensively, the seniors shined. Kiontae Rankin blew up the offensive line. Stephen Carter moved from linebacker to defensive line. Chris Bruce was in on several tackles. Linares Pagan made plays (“He always plays well,” Pinyan said). And Jeremiah Stockdale picked off his fifth pass of the season.
“We wanted to get a big win,” Stockdale said. “We had an off game last week and we wanted to bounce back.”
Mission accomplished, according to Pinyan, whose team fell 14-7 last week at Thomasville.
“Our goal tonight was to get some of that swagger back,” he said. “We felt like we lost a little edge by coming away from Thomasville without a win. We wanted something to boost our confidence going into the playoffs.”
Lingerfelt said Pinyan shouldn’t worry about confidence.
“Believe it or not, they’re a little better than they were last year, I think,” he said.
NOTES: Kavari Hillie had a sack. … Senior Joseph Figueroa had a 73-yard punt return called back due to a penalty. … Salisbury finished with 479 yards of total offense. … Pinyan started six seniors on offense and nine on defense. … Darien Rankin, another star of a very talented junior class, had a 40-yard punt return.