Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 2, 2013
THOMASVILLE — Add Thomasville to the list of teams chasing North Rowan this season.
The visiting Cavs’ looked every bit like the state’s top-ranked 2A team in Friday’s 40-0 CCC romp.
“This feels so good,” junior Jareke Chambers beamed after another field day for unbeaten North. “All we want to do is make history and get a ring.”
This victory was a significant step in the right direction. North (10-0, 4-0) clinched at least a tie for the conference championship with command performances on both sides of the ball.
“We thought it was gonna be a tough game,” said winning coach Joe Nixon, who celebrated his 33rd birthday with an easier-than-expected nod. “They’re a team with great tradition and a hall of fame football coach (Allen Brown). We were prepared for a battle.”
Instead, North spent the first three quarters using the Bulldogs as a chew toy. In the scoreless fourth quarterback Alexis Archie directed the offense like he was conducting the Boston Pops, melting nine minutes and 27 seconds off the clock on a single, 11-play drive.
“Right down to the end, we got the job done,” senior linebacker Xavier Robinson said. “We thought they were going to give us a dogfight. But Coach Nixon said to put the game away early and we don’t have to worry about it.”
Archie saw to that. The left-handed junior capped North’s first possession by lowering his right shoulder and barreling over a Thomasville defender on a 7-yard touchdown run.
“We talked about starting fast tonight,” Nixon explained after North totaled 268 yards rushing and zero passing. “The defense gave us a three-and-out and then we put a good drive together offensively.”
Before the opening period expired North was up 14-0, thanks to a film-at-11 play by its relentless defense. Thomasville (4-6, 3-1 CCC) was in punt formation on fourth-and-5 from its own 21. A poor snap eluded punter Brett Hokerson — whose first two punts netted minus-four and 11 yards. As the ball flip-flopped around the end zone, he desperately tried to kick it out of play. But Kenyaun Coney, North’s ball-magnet hybrid defender, alertly plucked the ball out of midair for a defensive TD.
“I thought (Hokerson) would jump on it for a safety,” Coney said. “When I saw him kick the ball I was surprised, but I have pretty good reflexes and it came right to me. I looked around and I was standing in the end zone.”
The party continued in the second quarter when Chambers (16 carries for 157 yards) busted a 71-yard run for the first of his two touchdowns. On third-and-10 he took a handoff from Archie and was seemingly stopped for a short gain.
“It was a draw play up the middle that I thought was broken up,” Chambers said. “But No. 23 (Thomasville’s Tommy Rodgers) was blitzing off the edge and only got a piece of me. Then No. 16 (Akeem Davis) was grabbing for the ball. So I put on a little spin move, got to the outside and turned on the jets.”
His romp down the left sideline left defenders tumbling like bowling pins and gave the Cavs 20-0 lead early in the second quarter. Chambers scored again on a 16-yard sprint late in the period following a perfectly executed fake punt. Just one snap earlier North was facing fourth down from its own 38 — but on gutsy call by assistant coach Josh Sophia — upman Robinson took the snap and raced 46 yards for a first down in Thomasville territory.
“Coach Sophia always gives me opportunities to make plays happen for the team,” said Robinson, who scored a third-quarter touchdown as a running back. “He says to go hard and play physical, and we have.”
Camouflaged in the flurry of offense was a lockdown effort by North’s defense. It limited Thomasville to two first downs and 67 total yards. The Bulldogs gained only seven yards in the second half.
“Coach Nixon told us not to sleep on this team,” said Coney, who also scored a TD in a Week 4 win against Davie County. “I study film. I study tenencies. The whole thing is don’t be scared to make a play. If it comes your way, rise to the occasion.”
North has been doing that all season.
NOTES: The Cavs clinched the CCC’s top seed in the playoffs and can secure the league title with a victory next week against Salisbury. … NR’s Kasaun Coney intercepted a pass in the second quarter and teammate Isiah Corpening recovered a fumble on Thomasville’s first snap of the fourth quarter.