High school football: North Rowan takes another step

Published 2:10 pm Saturday, November 18, 2023


By Dave Shaw

For the Salisbury Post

SPENCER —  North Rowan’s football team gave the adding machine another workout Friday night  — and this time it lifted the Cavs into Round 4 of the 1A state playoffs.

North scored on seven of its first eight possessions Friday night, then used Jaiden Brown’s clutch interception with 1:10 remaining to secure a dizzying 48-39 third-round win over visiting Mountain Heritage.  Its reward is a fourth-round match  — the Cavs’ first since 1992— at top-seeded Robbinsville next Friday.

“Oh man, it’s such a sense of relief,” rookie head coach Josh Sophia said after fourth-seeded North (11-2) collected 419 total yards and aced its third post-season exam. “It’s awesome. Happy to be in the fourth round. This is good for North Rowan.”

He can thank the usual suspects. North received three first-half touchdown runs from junior quarterback Jeremiah Alford (137 yards passing, 99 rushing), who completed 6 of 13 attempts and boosted his career total to 5,171 passing yards. “Jeremiah Alford is the reason we won tonight,” said starting center Silas Sophia, the coach’s son. “So is No. 2. And so is Stephen Thurston, the O-line coach. They got us through this one.”

No. 2, of course, is Jaemias Morrow — the senior running back who fileted Mountain Heritage’s defense for 174 yards and scored his ninth, 10th and 11th post-season touchdowns. He’s rushed for 693 yards in the playoffs, including a 64-yard burst for a score that gave North a 41-32 lead late in the third quarter. Fifth-seeded MH (10-3), winner of its previous nine games, closed within two points when junior quarterback Brandon Quinn scored on a 3-yard bootleg with 9:25 remaining. Alford provided some breathing room when he handed off to Khor’on Miller for a short TD run that closed the scoring with 4:06 to play.

That set the stage for a head-spinning finish. With 1:20 hanging on the clock, MH’s Cole McGee blocked a punt attempt by Daniel Montes-Medrano. The guests recovered the ball at the North 14-yard line, only to be foiled when Quinn’s first-down pass was picked off by Brown close to the goal line. “That was the first time all night we could relax,” said Coach Sophia.

Next up on North’s dance card is Robbinsville (12-1 with 8 straight wins), a 30-24 third-round survivor against Swain County. North lost a wild third-round game at Robbinsville two years ago.

NOTES: Miller, who doubles as a menacing linebacker, entered the game with 149 tackles this season. His second stop of the night gave him a North Rowan school record. … Quinn, an elusive, 6-foot-2 handful, rushed for 200 yards and finished the season with 2,102 yards on the ground. He ran for three touchdowns and threw a pair of scoring passes to sophomore Cason Jones. Mountain Heritage gained 374 total yards and made 18 first downs. … Montes-Medrano went 6-for-7 on PATs and recovered a fumble in the game’s opening minute. And while North receiver Amir Alexander was limited to one reception, teammate Tsion Kelly made four catches for 115 yards.


Mountain Heritage    7     19     6     7 — 39

North Rowan             14     14    13    7 — 48

NR — J.Alford 1 run (Montes-Medrano kick), 8:38 1st

NR — J.Alford 7 run (Montes-Medrano kick), 3:59 1st

MH — Jones 12 pass from Quinn (Newsome kick), 2:19 1st

MH — Quinn 10 run (Newsome kick), 9:03 2nd

NR — J.Alford 14 run (Montes-Medrano kick), 6:48 2nd

MH — Chandler 1 run (kick failed), 3:51 2nd

NR — Morrow 31 run (Montes-Medrano kick), 2:15 2nd

MH — Jones 15 pass from Quinn (run failed), 0:03 2nd

NR — Morrow 16 run (kick failed), 9:52 3rd

MH — Quinn 3 run (pass failed), 2:05 3rd

NR — Morrow 64 run (Montes-Medrano kick), 1:25 3rd

MH — Quinn 3 run (Newsome kick), 9:25 4th

NR — Miller 3 run (Montes-Medrano kick), 4:06 4th

Team Stats                                    MH                   NR

First downs                                   18                       17

Rushes-yards                            47-308              36-282

Passes                                          6-12-1               6-13-0

Passing yards                               66                      137

Penalties                                     9-105                  6-50

Punts                                               0                      1-40

Fumbles-lost                               2-1                       1-0

Individual Stats

Rushing — MH: Quinn 23-200; Chandler 13-59; Jones 10-47; Roy 1-2. NR: Morrow 21-174; J.Alford 12-99; Miller 3-9.

Passing — MH: Quinn 6-12-1, 66. NR: J.Alford 6-13-0, 137.

Receiving — MH: Jones 4-56; Chandler 2-10. NR: Kelly 4-115; Alexander 1-14; Morrow 1-8.