Prep Football: Albemarle 51, North Rowan 0
By Marny Hendrick
ALBEMARLE ó From the outset, North Rowan faced a major challenge by traveling to second-ranked Albemarle with only 25 players in uniform.
In the end, a rash of second quarter turnovers plus key injuries to top players resulted in a 51-0 trashing at the hands of the host Bulldogs Friday night.
Senior halfback Daquan Ellis racked up 119 yards and four touchdowns while Deon Christian passed for two more scores as Albemarle improved to 7-1 for the season, 4-0 in the Yadkin Valley Conference.
The short-handed Cavaliers, now 2-6, 1-3, lost four players to injuries in the physical battle, including star two-way performer Xavier Robinson and big lineman Justin Ogg to apparent dislocated shoulders. The timetable for their return is unknown.
Despite the lopsided outcome and the shortage of healthy bodies, Cavalier Coach Tasker Fleming still had positive thoughts for his team of ěgladiators.î
ěOur guys gave us a good effort from beginning to end, especially on defense.î Fleming said. ěBut we put too much pressure on our defense with all those turnovers. We battled, but you wonít get results unless you execute properly.î
The turnovers cited by Fleming came in a fatal flurry during the first half that included four lost fumbles and two interceptions, leading directly to 31 unanswered points by the Bulldogs. In nine potential possessions of the first half, Northís sequence read: interception, punt, fumble, fumbled kickoff, fumble, fumbled kickoff, punt, interception and halftime.
Albemarle did not record a first down until less than a minute remained in the first half primarily because it did not need to thanks to great field position. Ellis, the Bulldogsí speedy senior runner ripped off long scoring jaunts in the first period of 44 and 33 yards. A Julion Cisneros 34 yard field goal made it 16-0 and set the stage for the backbreaking turnover sequence that followed.
Northís beleaguered quarterback T.J. Allen fumbled the snap, recovered, then fumbled on a hard hit to give the Bulldogs possession at the 2. Ellis scored from there on the next play to make it 23-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, Kausan Coney bobbled the ball and Eric Wilmoth recovered for Albemarle at the North 29. On the next play Christian hit a leaping Willie Polk in the end zone for the score. In just 13 seconds on the clock, the Bulldogs scored twice and effectively ended the Cavsí hopes with a 30-0 lead.
The Bulldogs did rack up three more scores in the second half on a 30-yard pass from Christian to Alvin Currie; the fourth TD run by Ellis from 5 yards out and a mop-up score early in the fourth from the one by reserve quarterback Bryan Blanton.
ěWe played a fairly complete game from beginning to end, ě noted winning coach Danny Akins. ěWe stayed up and played hard. Ellis had one of his better games and ran hard.î
The Bulldogs now figure to be the clear-cut favorite for the YVC title although they still have to face a strong South Stanly squad in a regular-season finale.
As for their playoff chances and a run to a state title, Atkins was a little more reserved. ěThis team is just as athletic as some of our (championship) teams from the past, but I am concerned about our maturity level. We have a ways to go yet.î
For North Rowan the challenge is now to try and put enough players on the field, even if it means bringing along a few jayvees in the next week.
ěTruthfully, we just need to put this game behind us and try to get healthy,î Fleming said. ěWe just have to work harder and try to find some consistency.î