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Wilson’s record-tying six touchdowns rocket Cavaliers to 53-6 win

By David Shaw
sports@salisburypost.com

SPENCER — If you couldn’t find Malcolm Wilson Friday night, all you had to do was look in the end zone.

The North Rowan running back scored six — count ’em, six — touchdowns in 53-6 Yadkin Valley Conference victory against visiting South Stanly.

“Was it six?” the senior asked, moments after the Cavaliers (4-3, 2-0) won their fourth straight game. “I forgot about the pass. I don’t think I’ve ever scored this many, not even in middle school. This is definitely a PR.”

Yes, and a county record, tying the mark set by Landis’ Billy Ray Barnes in 1952, and equaled by West Rowan KP Parks in 2007 and 2009. North’s JaReke Chambers was the last to do it, in 2013, before Wilson on Friday night.

Wilson earned his stripes, rushing for 165 yards and five TDs on 10 carries. He also turned a short screen pass from quarterback Kyree Sims into a 28-yard touchdown that opened the scoring just 1:48 into the match. It came on the Cavs’ second play from scrimmage, aided by downfield blocks from receivers Denerio Robinson and Tyshon Sifford.

“We got in a rhythm pretty early — and that was huge,” said winning coach Ben Hampton. “Rhythm’s important in just about anything you do in life. Things were just clicking right away.”

Sims, who passed for 141 yards and orchestrated North’s dizzying 40-point first quarter, conceded he entered the game feeling wonderful and finished it even better.

“We’ve been putting in the work, practicing pretty hard,” the junior said after completing 10 of 16 passes. “I knew as soon as (Wilson) caught that pass, it was going to work. We put in too much effort for it not to work.”

North’s defense — which recorded five sacks and procured four South Stanly (3-3, 1-1) turnovers — looked playoff-ready. Led by junior Xzavier Davis and senior Nashid Tabb, the Cavs forced turnovers on three of the Rowdy Rebel Bulls’ first four possessions. Davis intercepted QB Jaquez Cooke twice before the game was 10-minutes old and Tabb recovered following a 17-yard Cooke scamper. Other standouts were seniors Jordan Goodine and Malachi Turner, defensive cogs who help limit South to 48 total yards and just four snaps in North territory.

“We knew they had a mobile quarterback who like to drop back and then run right up the middle,” said Goodine, a sideline-to-sideline linebacker. “We made a point of taking away the middle and forcing him outside.”

Once outside the pocket, Cooke was unsteady. He completed five of 11 passes for 34 yards, but threw three interceptions and was routinely harassed by 240-pound defensive end Brandon Jefferson. “They were just too physical,” said SS coach Ryan Ochier. “We came in six starters down and we lost four more tonight. It was rough.”

Especially when they tried to corral Wilson. The 190-pound bruiser scored on a 29-yard run, a 47-yard sprint and a 4-yard burst up the middle — all before the first quarter expired. Sifford took a handoff and motored 31 yards down the left sideline to give the Cavs an insurmountable 40-0 edge after one.

“What else can you say about Malcolm?” North center Kendall Reid queried. “He’s our go-to guy, the one we can always rely on.”

A running clock was initiated late in the first half when Wilson capped a nine-play, 56-yard drive with a 2-yard blast into the end zone. South scored its only points in the third quarter, when Sims was hit on his throwing shoulder as he released a pass to the left side. The ball lolly-popped to defensive back Jaderian Smith, who returned the interception 44 yards for a touchdown. It did little to diminish Sims’ contribution.

“I’m proud of him,” Hampton said. “He still has some things to polish up on, but in the past four weeks he’s grown up a lot. I told him tonight, ‘This doesn’t mean you’ve arrived.’ But he played well, he managed the offense and that’s what we need him to do.”

Hampton also threw verbal bouquets toward Turner and of course, Wilson. “Malachi, we call him meat ball. He’s like a wrecking ball there in the middle,” Hampton said. “He doesn’t get in on a lot of tackles, but he’s occupying two blocks, letting our linebackers run free.”

Hampton called Wilson “our workhorse,” and added: “When we get down there, we’re gonna reward him with some totes near the end zone. He just has a nose for finding it.”

Most importantly, the Cavs find themselves sharing the conference lead with four YVC games remaining.

“We’re sitting where we want to be,” Hampton said. “We can’t get complacent, but we are glad to be right here.”

NOTES: Before the outburst, North scored 99 points in its first five games. … Cavs’ junior Tyshaun Pratt had a fourth-quarter interception. … Wilson’s final TD came on a n electrifying, 65-yard dash with 8:06 remaining in the third period. He entered the game with six touchdowns. … North plays at Albemarle next Friday.

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