High school football: North rallies to beat Bulldogs
ALBEMARLE — When Albemarle’s Adrian Little headed to the end zone with 5:02 remaining on Friday, North Rowan trailed 33-22 on the road.
Defeat looked probable, almost certain, but North Rowan didn’t blink.
The Cavaliers came back for a stunning 36-33 victory. Malcolm Wilson scored the winning touchdown, his 14th of the season, with 39 seconds left.
North, which started the season 0-3, is now 5-3 and 3-0 in the Yadkin Valley Conference.
“Down 11, with five minutes, it did not look good,” North head coach Ben Hampton said. “We’d put ourselves in a really bad position with a lot of offensive mistakes. But I commend our guys. On a night when nothing went right for us for a very long time, they showed again that they are resilient.”
Albemarle (2-5, 2-1) scored early to lead 7-0. North Rowan answered with a touchdown sneak by quarterback Kyree Sims, but a 2-point conversion try failed.
North’s first lead came on a short scoring burst by Wilson. A 2-point conversion put the Cavaliers ahead 14-7 in the opening seconds of the second quarter.
Julius Smith scored on the ground to get the Bulldogs within 14-13 at halftime.
Albemarle went up 19-14 with 8:42 left in the third quarter when Little found the end zone, but Xzaviar “Zay” Davis promptly returned the kickoff for a North touchdown. Sims threw a 2-point conversion pass to James Gladden for a 22-19 North lead.
Davis intercepted a pass at the North 10, his sixth pick of the season, to stop an Albemarle threat, but Albemarle blocked a punt for a safety to cut North’s lead to 22-21 with 11 minutes left in the game.
Then the Bulldogs appeared to take command. Antonio Burns scored with 8:14 remaining. Then Little scored with 5:02 remaining to give Albemarle that 33-22 lead.
“Albemarle is big and they’re physical,” Hampton said. “They won the battle in the trenches tonight. They’ve got a good team.”
North needed to respond quickly — and did. Sims scored from the 1 with 2:40 left and ran for the 2-point conversion that cut the Cavs’ deficit to 33-30.
Albemarle was able to recover North’s desperate onside kick, but the Bulldogs went 3-and-out and couldn’t shave much time off the clock.
“Their quarterback scrambled out of bounds on one play and that helped us save a timeout,” Hampton said.
Then Albemarle failed to execute on the snap on the most critical punt of the night, and North took over on the Albemarle 13 with 1:08 remaining.
Wilson got the decisive touchdown a few plays later, running left, and North had the lead.
Albemarle reached the North 42 in the final seconds, but the Cavaliers were able to hold on.
“This was a big one for us as far the conference,” Hampton said.
Chatham Central visits North Rowan next week, while Albemarle plays at North Stanly.
North Rowan 14 0 8 14 — 36
Albemarle 7 6 6 14 — 33
A — Rushing TD (PAT kick), 8:52, 1st
NR — Sims 1 run (PAT failed), 616, 1st
NR — Wilson 1 run (2-point conversion), 11:56, 2nd
A — Smith 2 run (PAT failed), 4:00, 2nd
A — Little 4 run (PAT failed), 9:00, 3rd
NR — Davis kickoff return (Gladden pass from Sims), 8:42, 3rd
A — Safety, punt blocked, 11:06, 4th
A — Burns 7 run (PAT failed), 8:14, 4th
A — Little 11 run (PAT failed), 5:02, 4th
NR — Sims 1 run (Sims run), 2:40, 4th
NR — Wilson 10 run (PAT failed), 0:39, 4th