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SPENCER — North Rowan pulled away from outmanned C.D. Owen 55-22 on Friday in the second round of the 2A playoffs, and head coach Joe Nixon, who has been a cautious guy all season, finally allowed himself a hearty smile.
“We’ll practice on Thanksgiving, and I’ve always been told that’s what separates the good teams from the great ones,” Nixon said. “Just very proud of our kids right now.”
Alexis Archie ran for a score and threw four TD passes to four different receivers for the Cavaliers (13-0), who broke school records for consecutive wins and for victories in a season. Jareke Chambers was a gamebreaker once again, with 101 rushing yards and 102 receiving yards against the visitors from Black Mountain. Receiver Sakil Harrison blocked like crazy and had five receptions for 80 yards.
“They’re explosive, they don’t do anything to hurt themselves, and No. 7 (Chambers) can go 80 any time he touches it, ” veteran Owen coach Kenny Ford said. “What North Rowan reminds me of are the state-championship Shelby teams we played against in the 1990s.”
It’s fitting then that North will host Shelby in next Friday’s third-rounder.
Depth was the biggest factor in Friday’s game.
“We had 24 kids, we lost our starting quarterback (Sam Drummond) last week, and we still stood toe-to-toe with the No. 1 team in the state a long time,” Ford said. “I couldn’t have asked our kids for any more than I got.”
Six starters for the Warhorses (9-3) played both ways, while North’s studs got plenty of rest. North led only 21-14 at halftime, but the game got away from the visitors in the third quarter.
Owen didn’t make a first down in that period, while North put up three TDs.
The key play came in the first minute of the second half. North was backed up and was facing second-and-25 after a penalty. Nixon made the perfect call at the perfect time — a screen pass from Archie to Chambers.
“We hadn’t run that play since the Carson game early in the season, so we knew they hadn’t seen us do that on film,” offensive coordinator Ben Hampton said.
“We called it at a good time,” Nixon said. “They had linebackers blitzing.”
Chambers said he made the mistake of getting ahead of the guard who was supposed to be his key blocker, but blocks fell into place.
“I made a cutback, and then Sakil Harrison made a great block,” Chambers said. “Then I turned on the jets. Everyone was talking about Owen’s running back (Jager Gardner), so that gave me lot of fuel to play well.”
The play was a backbreaker for Owen, which had some momentum going to halftime.
“Only one of our kids had a shot, and when No. 7 got to the second level it was over,” Ford said. “But it’s not like we could sit back. You’ve got to try to get to No. 7 before he gets started.”
North’s defensive focus was clear-cut. Gardner had run over people all year.
“We knew we had to stop the running back,” nose guard Malik McGee said. “Simple gameplan — stop the run. And we came out for the second half determined not to give up any more points.”
North didn’t give up any more while it still mattered.
“At halftime, we kind of had to cheer up the defense,” Archie said. “Most of the time this year they’ve led us. Tonight it was our turn to lead them a little bit.”
Xavier Robinson and Kasaun Coney, primarily defenders, scored TDs on offense, and North got a pick-6 from Xavier Partee.
Harrison and Darrell Taylor caught TD passes to put North up 14-0. The Cavs faced some adversity after that — the first in a long time — but they responded.
“The coaches told us to mash the gas,” Chambers said. “If you look at the scoreboard, that’s what we did.”

North Rowan 55, C.D. Owen 22
Owen NR
First downs 14 25
Rushing yardage 171 198
Passing yardage 159 285 Passing (C-A-I) 11-19-1 14-23-1
Punting 5-27.0 1-39
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 1-1
Penalties 12-93 6-61

Owen 0 14 0 8 — 22
North Rowan 7 14 21 13 — 55
Scoring summary
NR — Taylor 9 pass from Archie (Auten kick), 0:46, 1st
NR — Ka. Coney 12 pass from Archie (Auten kick), 9:34, 2nd
O — Bennett 3 run (Steinel kick), 3:25, 2nd
NR — Archie 3 run (Auten kick), 1:42, 2nd
O —Brown 8 pass from Harper (Steinel kick), 0:20, 2nd
NR — Chambers 72 pass from Archie (Auten kick), 11:37, 3rd
NR — Harrison 17 pass from Archie (Auten kick), 6:41, 3rd
NR — X. Robinson 14 run (Auten kick), 1:58, 3rd
NR — Chambers 13 run (kick failed), 10:03, 4th
O — McHone 34 pass from Harper (Frizsell pass from Harper), 7:43, 4th
NR — Partee 77 interception return (Auten kick), 1:03, 4th

Individual statistics
Rushing — Owen : Gardner 14-97; Bennett 8-33; Johnston 5-37; Harper 4-24; McHone 1-0. NR : Chambers 13-101; X. Robinson 3-40; Ka. Coney 5-25; Cowan 5-23; Archie 3-12; Clark 1-(minus 3).
Passing — Owen; Harper 11-19-1, 159. NR: Archie 14-22-1, 285; Chambers 0-1-0, Receiving — Owen : Johnston 2-56; Brown 2-39; Gardner 2-17; Bennett 2-7; McHone 1-34; Frizsell 1-7; Pine 1-(minus 1); NR : Harrison 5-80; Sifford 3-47; Chambers 2-102; Taylor 2-35; Ka. Coney 1-12; Walker 1-9.

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