Oak Grove pins first loss on Salisbury, 35-19
Tough setback for the Hornets
By Mike Duprez
MIDWAY — Oak Grove came into Friday’s big Central Carolina Conference game with Salisbury having forced a running clock against five of its six opponents.
The question was what could the Grizzlies do with another undefeated team?
The answer? A whole lot.
Workhorse tailback Aiden Shewcow ran for pair of touchdowns and quarterback Ian McGlamery threw for two touchdowns as the Grizzlies posted an impressive 35-19 win.
Oak Grove also scored two defensive touchdowns, held Salisbury to 202 yards and tacked on another score on a kickoff return to improve to 7-0 on the season.
“It was a battle of the undefeateds,” Shewcow said. “One of us was going to come out undefeated still. And we wanted it more.”
It was a thrilling night for Oak Grove coach Mark Holcomb, who saw his team successfully play smash-mouth football and score so many different ways against a Salisbury squad that had allowed 18 points all season.
“They’re good,” Holcomb said. “Their defensive front comes as advertised. I think we have a good offensive line but at times, we struggled. Aiden ran really hard and Ian and our receivers made some big plays at big moments.”
Quarterback Vance Honeycutt and tailback Mike McLean both had long touchdown runs but that wasn’t enough for the Hornets, who dropped to 6-1, falling a game behind Oak Grove and Ledford.
“We gave up three touchdowns,” said Salisbury coach Brian Hinson. “We had a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown, a pick six and a kickoff return. They’re a good football team but we can’t give them extra possessions and we can’t give them 21 points.”
Salisbury’s defense certainly didn’t give ground easily.
Shewcow carried the ball 42 times for 179 very tough yards. His longest run was 17 yards and 17 of his carries netted 3 or less yards.
The Grizzlies drove down the field on their first possession, mostly runs by Shewcow. But the Hornets tightened up in the red zone and Shewcow was stopped for no gain by lineman Zae Clay on fourth-and-two from the 3.
“We struggled a lot in the first quarter,” Shewcow said. “We really did. It was so-so.”
It didn’t end up hurting the Grizzlies, though.
The Hornets’ Mike McLean fumbled on the next play and Mason Grubbs recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown as Oak Grove took the lead in stunning fashion. Shewcow was stopped short on the two-point conversion, leaving Oak Grove with a 6-0 lead with 4:04 left in the first quarter.
“I saw the ball and had to make a play,” Grubbs said.
It was the first of many big plays by Oak Grove’s defense.
“We work hard,” Grubbs said. “I can’t say I’m surprised by the outcome because our defense works harder than anyone else in the county. We put in the effort every day in practice.”
A quick turn of events put Salisbury ahead in the second quarter.
Ian McGlamery threw one up for grabs on third and long and it was intercepted by Donovan Corpening at the Grizzlies’ 45.
Honeycutt scooted for a touchdown on the next play and Wade Robins kicked the PAT, putting Salisbury up 7-6 with 7:14 to go in the first half.
The Grizzlies put together another drive after the ensuing kickoff and this one went through. The key play was a 30-yard completion from McGlamery to Hunter Tilley, who made the catch at the Salisbury 5-yard line, despite tight coverage.
“I just looked it in,” Tilley said. “I don’t know what else to say.”
Two plays later, Shewcow plowed in from two yards out.
Grubbs, lined up as a fullback in the jumbo package, ran in the two-point conversion to give Oak Grove a 14-7 lead with 2:49 left in the first half.
“I love it,” Grubbs said. “I like being with the offensive guys. They treat me like I’m one of their own. It’s fun carrying the ball. I love doing it.”
That 14-7 score stood at halftime, a little too close for comfort for the Grizzlies.
“We said at halftime that we’ve got to fix this,” Shewcow said. “We’ve got to do what we do best. We came out in the second half and did what we needed to do.”
What the Grizzlies do best is run the football with a some timely passes sprinkled in.
Oak Grove owned the ball nearly the entire third quarter. The Grizzlies’ first drive stalled at the Salisbury 24 but after a three-and-out by the Hornets, Oak Grove marched 79 yards in 11 plays, capped by McGlamery’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Crew Jones. Caleb Schoenberger’s PAT kick made it a 21-7 game with 1:10 left in the third quarter.
Then, the slugfest in the trenches suddenly gave way to big plays.
McLean stunned the Grizzlies with a 44-yard touchdown run, putting his team back in it. The extra point was missed and Salisbury trailed, 21-13, with 10:32 still remaining.
“We were blitzing, didn’t roll our coverage and the kid gets up the middle,” Holcomb said. “I don’t know if we catch him anyway. He’s a good player.”
It didn’t take long at all for Oak Grove to respond as Seth Blair returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown.
“It was crazy,” Blair said. “I’m so glad the guys on the front line blocked for us. Everybody did their job. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Just like that, Oak Grove had a two-touchdown lead again.
“That was huge for momentum,” Holcomb said. “He can run a little bit.”
Yet, once again Salisbury bounced back, with Honeycutt firing a 24-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Taylor. Robins missed the extra point again but Salisbury was within 28-19 with 8:44 left.
Oak Grove took back over at its 46-yard line and though they didn’t score, the Grizzlies drained six and a half minutes off the clock with short runs.
“Three yards, four yards, we’ll take it,” Holcomb said.
Then came the exclamation point, when Anthony Bowen intercepted a Honeycutt pass and returned it 11 yards for a touchdown.
“I saw the quarterback getting sacked,” Bowen said. “I just read him and I saw him lob it up. I had to go get it.”
And that was pretty much it.
“I thought are kids played really well defensively,” Holcomb said.
Right now, the Grizzlies, in just their second year of varsity football, have the wind at their backs.
“It’s great,” Tilley said. “We just want to keep rolling. We’ve got to play big games and win big games.”
Oak Grove visits West Davidson next Friday, while Salisbury visits Ledford.
NOTES: McLean had 99 yards on 16 carries. … Honeycutt passing was 5-of-10 for 54 yards, a TD and three interceptions. … Tilley caught 4 passes for 76 yards. … McGlamery was 7-of-17 for 97 yards. … Collin Frank had an interception.