Salisbury falls to Shelby in 2AA state championship game
Hornets finish runner-up in state 2AA
By Dennis Davidson
WINSTON-SALEM — Defending state champion Shelby overpowered Salisbury, 34-0, here Saturday afternoon in the 2AA title game at BB&T Field.
The Golden Lions made it two straight championships with a smothering defense, holding the Hornets to just 39 total yards and five first downs during the game. Meanwhile, after a slow start, Shelby rolled up 359 yards.
The Lions gained 138 yards on the ground, compared to minus 6 for Salisbury. Running back Mike McLean had some positive runs for the Hornets, but sacks of quarterback Vance Honeycutt put Salisbury’s rushing attack in the red.
Shelby running back Ja’hari Mitchell rushed for just 24 yards on six carries, but three went for touchdowns. He also threw a TD pass and was voted the game’s MVP.
The Lions’ leading rusher, Donye Fuller, ran for 103 yards on 19 carries. Quarterback Isaiah Bess, who threw for 212 yards and another score, was selected as Shelby’s most outstanding offensive player.
Honeycutt was on the run for most of the game, away from Shelby’s fierce pass rush, and completed just 7-of-21 passes for 45 yards.
On defense, Salisbury had three sacks of Bess, all by lineman Zae Clay, and all in the first half. Jaden Gaither led the Hornets with 11 tackles, while linebacker Jalon Walker had nine stops.
Salisbury’s defense had success throughout the game, but with the offense unable to sustain drives, it tired as the uphill climb continued.
Shelby led at halftime, 20-0, and added scores in each of the third and fourth quarters.
The Hornets’ best field position came on its first possession. Salisbury took over on Shelby’s 31-yard line when Kamarde Huskey fumbled the opening kickoff, when tackled by Salisbury’s Marcus Cook.
Honeycutt then completed passes for Patrick Taylor and Cook for a first down at the 19-yard line. However, lost 14 yards during the next three plays and punted.
Two series later, Mitchell scored his first touchdown and Shelby was off and running.
The Most Outstanding Offensive and Defensive Player Awards, sponsored by the Carolina Panthers, were:
Runner-Up Salisbury Most Outstanding Defensive Player — Zae Clay
Runner-Up Salisbury Most Outstanding Offensive Player — Mike McLean
Shelby Most Outstanding Defensive Player —Malaki Hamrick
Shelby Most Outstanding Offensive Player — Isaiah Bess
Salisbury 0 0 0 0 — 0
Shelby 7 13 7 7 — 34
More coverage on this game will be available later this evening.