Prep Football: Salisbury 19, North Rowan 7

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 24, 2012

By Ryan Bisesi
SALISBURY — Justin Ruffin darted past the North Rowan special teams unit and reaped the rewards after a 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
As if his night hadn’t been sweet enough, he earned something else besides the star of the game for the Hornets in their 19-7 win. Something for him and his special teams comrades from the coaching staff.
“Milkshakes” said Ruffin after his three touchdown, 124-yard rushing night. “As soon as I got a touchdown that was all I was thinking about.”
On a night where defense dictated tempo, Ruffin was the lone skill player to shine. It was his first kickoff return for a touchdown of his career and his first three-score game since last year’s Carson win.
Salisbury held North without an offensive touchdown and forced three turnovers, scoring 14 points off them. DB Malik Jones, who didn’t play against East Rowan, recovered a fumble and snagged an interception.
“I’m tremendously shocked how well our defense played with our backs against the wall all night long,” Pinyan said. “We want to give those guys some time to grow up. They grew up extremely fast.”
Salisbury bounced back from a disappointing Week 1 loss and topped its rival for the seventh time in the last eight meetings.
North pulled to within 13-7 on Kasaun Coney’s 53-yard punt return for a touchdown with 9:01 left. The momentum was theirs for the time being.
“On the sideline, Coach Pinyan said all we have to do is run the kick return back and we kill their momentum,” Ruffin said.
Early on, neither offense appeared energized as teams traded punts. Salisbury (1-1) didn’t get a first down until the second quarter and fumbled on its first play from scrimmage. North had three drives stall out in Salisbury territory as the Hornet defense stood tall.
The Hornets came out with renewed vigor after halftime, holding North (1-1) to eight plays on offense in the third quarter. Jones recovered a fumble and Brian Bauk fell on a muffed punt five plays apart.
Despite the sloppiness, it was the 90th win for Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan.
“Barring a few mistakes here and there, in the second half we played much better,” Pinyan said.
The Cavs had first and goal on the 4 early in the second quarter, but a bad snap and a delay of game pushed them all the way back to the 18. They turned the ball over on downs.
“We had plenty of opportunities to win the game and didn’t take advantage,” North coach Joe Nixon said. “We’ve got to do a better job.”
Rasean Bledsoe intercepted North QB Alexis Archie at the Salisbury 42 late in the second quarter. Two plays later, quarterback Bauk kept it 28 yards to get the Hornets close then Ruffin took it in from 20 yards out for the first points.
“They’re going to say he’s undersized but he’s got tremendous speed,” Pinyan said. “When we got to have it, we make him a part of it. He’s a special back.”
Clint Comadoll sacked Archie on the final play of the first half as Salisbury still led 7-0.
It took another North miscue to kickstart Salisbury as Bauk picked up a dropped punt near midfield late in the third. Max Allen then had a 35-yard run and later Ruffin punched it in from 16 yards out on 3rd-and-7 to make it 13-0. North went four-and-out on the series to squash any comeback hopes.
Jareke Chambers led the Cavs with 64 yards rushing on 10 carries. Archie completed seven of 20 passes for 101 yards with two interceptions.
“Alexis is taking baby steps and that’s all we need him to do,” Nixon said. “We’ve just got to get better.”