High school football: North gets a scare, but wins again

Published 2:35 am Monday, September 18, 2023

By Mike London

SPENCER — There was a recent 11-year stretch in which North Rowan football teams played South Davidson seven times and outscored the Wildcats 357-0.

That’s right, 357-0. That’s roughly 50 unanswered touchdowns for a decade.

There was a record-setting 74-0 game during that run, the biggest rout the Cavaliers have ever had against anyone.

Team speed and team size, huge factors on a football field, were always in North’s favor. Year after year.

People used to give North running backs a hard time if they only scored three touchdowns against South Davidson. South Davidson wasn’t quite an open week for the Cavaliers, but it was the next best thing.

As North prepared for a home game against South Davidson last week, the Central Carolina Conference opener for both teams, North head coach Josh Sophia did his best to talk up South Davidson. He said, on film, it was the best South Davidson team he’d ever seen and he predicted the Wildcats would cause problems for the Cavaliers.

South Davidson had started turning things around in 2022 when it broke a lengthy scoreless drought against North in a 40-6 loss. The Wildcats stayed under the radar, but South Davidson won four games in 2022 and made the 1A state playoffs. South Davidson improved so much that head coach Tripp Honeycutt was voted Central Carolina Conference Coach of the Year by his peers.

South Davidson began this season 3-1, but the schedule wasn’t all that stout and just about everyone except Sophia believed that even the best South Davidson team in a long, long time would still lose to North by 35 or so.

That proved to be wishful thinking. The Cavaliers had to fight for their lives to win 20-14 on Friday. North was trailing in the fourth quarter.

“They’re pretty good — that coaching staff has done a great job,” said Sophia, who was North’s defensive coordinator for several blowouts of South Davidson. “And there’s never a dull moment for us.”

North is 4-1 now, but other than the blowout of East Rowan on opening night, there haven’t been any easy games.

Jaemias Morrow scored in the first quarter for North for a 7-0 lead against South Davidson, but the Cavaliers didn’t score again the rest of the first half. When the Wildcats scored with 40 seconds left in the half, it was 7-all, and by halftime, both teams knew times had changed in one of the most one-sided series of all-time.

Early in the second half, South Davidson scored through the air, kicked the point and led 14-7. Then the Wildcats’ defense dug in. South Davidson still led 14-7 heading to the fourth quarter.

North came into the game overconfident, but answered the bell when it had to. Morrow’s 26-yard touchdown run with 6:47 left to play made it 14-13, and Daniel Montes Medrano kicked a very big PAT for 14-all.

North finally struck for a deep ball with 2:27 left to play. Jeremiah Alford hit Amir Alexander with a 57-yard strike, and North led 20-14. South Davidson blocked the PAT.

North stopped South Davidson on downs with about 50 seconds left to seal the win.

Alexander intercepted two passes in addition to his touchdown catch. George Maxwell also had an interception.

Alford was picked off twice, but he threw for 128 yards. He was held to 28 rushing yards on 11 carries.

Morrow had the big offensive game for the Cavaliers with 10 carries for 149 yards and his fifth and sixth touchdowns of the season.

Grey Causby recovered an onside kick.

North will play an important game on Friday when it plays a strong Thomasville team (3-2, 0-1) on the road. Thomasville fought a furious battle against Salisbury on Friday before losing 12-6.

South Davidson also will play an important CCC game, as it takes on Lexington (3-2, 1-0). Lexington hammered East Davidson 38-13.