SPENCER — North Rowan assistant Bill Kesler has been coaching for 30-plus years, but his math skills haven’t faded.
“One thing about those 99-yard runs, it makes it pretty easy to have a 100-yard night,” Kesler quipped in the warmth of the North locker room following a bone-chilling 46-7 win against visiting East Davidson.
The guy with the 99-yard run was North tailback Jareke Chambers, who accumulated 165 yards on just eight carries. Chambers’ three TDs were all highlight-film material. He also stampeded 80 yards with a kickoff return and broke a 39-yarder to open the scoring festivities in the 2A Central Carolina Conference game.
Coming off a monster outing against West Davidson, North QB Alexis Archie didn’t have to throw much, but the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder barreled for three rushing TDs.
Kasuan Coney picked off two passes to lead North’s defense, while Mike Robinson had a pick-6, a forced fumble and a TD-saving tackle.
In other words, unbeaten North’s special players were special again.
“It was freezing out there, but we just stuck to our gameplan and got after it,” Chambers said. “Just like we’ve done all year.”
For East Davidson, Austin Wallace threw a second-quarter scoring pass to Tyler Rhodes, and hard-nosed full back Bryce Bolen pounded for 83 hard-earned yards on 18 carries.
Bolen was the key to East Davidson coach Vance Hanner’s gameplan. The Golden Eagles (6-3, 1-2 CCC) wanted to run the ball, control the clock and keep the ball out of the hands of Archie and Chambers.
Bolen opened the game with back-to-back 7-yard bruisers.
“Their plan was sound,” North coach Joe Nixon said. “We expected them to come in here throwing the ball, but instead they ran it. They wanted to shorten the game.”
East Davidson stopped the Cavaliers (9-0, 3-0 CCC) on their first two possessions, but a big defensive series by Shane Parker forced the Golden Eagles to punt, and North got a short field late in the first quarter. That’s when Chambers broke his 39-yarder for a 6-0 lead.
Early in the second quarter, the Golden Eagles scored on a third-and-10 play when Wallace threw a 23-yard strike to Rhodes in the end zone, and suddenly ED was even with 2A’s No. 1 team.
And after Salvador Pecina’s PAT, the Golden Eagles held a 7-6 lead.
East Davidson had momentum for a handful of seconds, but then the Golden Eagles had to kick off.
“They tried to squib it,” Chambers said. “I thought Trae Clark was going to get it, but it took a big bounce over his head, and I started thinking, ‘OK, it’s my turn.’ I headed for the right side got some good blocks, and then I was in the clear. I put a stutter-step move on No. 19 (Pecina, the kicker).”
North scored two more times in the second quarter to take a comfortable 26-7 lead to the break. Archie scored both TDs on short runs. Coney’s interception set up the first one.
With North leading 33-7 late in the third quarter, the Cavaliers made a defensive stand. On fourth down, Robinson and Kenyaun Coney tackled Nathan Campbell on the 1-yard line after he caught a short pass.
“That guy (Campbell) was All-State linebacker, so when he lined up as a receiver, I knew the ball was going to him,” Robinson said. “That was just common sense. Then I saw the quarteback lock in on him and I started running to make the tackle.”
Seconds after that stop, Chambers bolted 99 yards like his helmet was on fire, and Eagle Stadium erupted.
“I got in the hole, made a guy miss, and made a cutback move,” Chambers said.
Then it was a footrace, and Chambers won it easily.
Robinson’s 39-yard pick-6 closed the scoring.
“Mike read and jumped a bubble screen and made a nice play there,” Nixon said. “Our defense played well. Our offense played well. Our kicking game got better and we won the turnover battle. There were mistakes, but I’m pleased with our guys.”
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