Prep Football: Salisbury 51, East Rowan 0
By Mike London
GRANITE QUARRY — Salisbury was assessed a 5-yard equipment penalty in the second half of Friday night’s 51-0 romp against East Rowan.
That penalty, suggested some of the comedians in the audience, may have been for having an extra gear.
Salisbury’s defending 2AA champs, with eight starters back on defense, are way faster than East Rowan and way more experienced. That was a deadly combination for the Mustangs.
“I thought East had a great gameplan and they’ve got some good athletes,” Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan said. “But our defense was just a step quicker — maybe two steps quicker.”
It was the 14th straight victory for Salisbury, which suddenly possesses the county’s longest winning streak.
It was the most lopsided opening-night win for the Hornets since they creamed West Rowan 58-0 in 1971.
“I feel euphoric right now,” linebacker Travis Byrd said. “We’ve got a lot of the defense back, but the coaches haven’t been that pleased with how we’ve been playing. But we showed tonight what we can do. We weren’t perfect, but this was a good statement.”
Junior running backs Max Allen and Justin Ruffin surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark for the Hornets, while veteran Dominique Dismuke had over 100 with rushing and receiving combined.
“We have a lot of new guys on offense,” Dismuke said. “I wasn’t worried about them being nervous. What I was worried about was whether they would execute. But we played a good game. The running was good, the blocking was good, and even after we got up 35-0, we kept right on pushing. We played like champions.”
East got an early fumble recovery from Austin Hill at the SHS 41, but after three plays netted 5 yards, East coach Chad Tedder elected to play for field position with a punt. Jantzen Stirewalt’s punting actually was the highlight for East. He averaged better than 40 yards on six kicks.
Salisbury rolled 63 yards on its third possession. Dismuke barreled for a couple of bruising first downs before QB Brian Bauk made a beautiful fake, kept the ball and sliced 26 yards past defenders to break the ice. Michael Mazur kicked the first of his six PATs to make it 7-0.
Bauk has been battling senior Jon Hall for the quarterback job. Hall missed the game with a thumb injury, but Bauk was close to flawless.
“I’m proud of him,” Pinyan said. “He didn’t wreck the car. He didn’t put it in a ditch and make us pay the insurance. He got the ball where it needed to go all night.”
Salisbury’s defense, which limited East to four first downs and 29 net yards, got a fumble recovery from Jared Hardin barely a minute after Bauk’s TD, and Dismuke punched in an 8-yard score.
After another East punt, the Hornets pushed 74 yards for a 21-0 lead. The 48-yard TD came on crisply executed play-action. Bauk connected with Dismuke, who had gotten behind everybody.
East’s Calvin Edwards nearly broke the kickoff after Dismuke’s TD, but he was brought down on the SHS 40, and things fell apart for the Mustangs before halftime. East lost the momentum from Edwards’ return when Keion Adams picked off a pass, and Adams’ strong return set up a scoring dash by Ruffin.
With two seconds left in the half, East called timeout to set up a final play. It didn’t work out. Quan Davis intercepted for the Hornets and rolled 65 yards as time expired to make it 34-0 at the break.
Allen and Braylon Dailey added rushing TDs in the second half, and Mazur drilled a 35-yard field goal.
“We fought to the bitter end, and I give our guys credit for that, but Salisbury’s very good,” Tedder said. “They lost great players, but they’re still very good at getting 3 or 4 yards a pop with run-run-run. And then they’ll get you with a big one on play-action.”