By Charles Curcio, Sports Editor
Sunday, November 3, 2013 —
The most wins that a North Stanly team has ever had in a season dates back to the first two years of the school’s existence, when the Comets went 9-1 in 1963 and 8-2 in 1964.
In two other seasons, 1984 and 1998, North reached seven wins in those years, but neither of those totals led to the playoffs.
North Stanly entered Friday’s game at South Stanly having guaranteed both a playoff game and a winning record. Any wins on top of those marks for the rest of the season improves the Comets’ chances of earning a home playoff game for the first time in school history.
On a soaking-wet football field at K.L. Young Stadium in Norwood, North reached seven wins for only the fifth time in 51 seasons with a 36-6 win over the Rebel Bulls.
Lacey Riggins had a huge night on both sides of the football for North Stanly (7-3, 5-2 YVC). Riggins had 93 rushing yards and a touchdown on offense, then turned around on defense to record three sacks and recover two fumbles by South Stanly (3-7, 3-4).
After the two teams exchanged fumbles to start the game, South was forced to punt on their second possession. North punt returner Kasey Caulder ran backwards to pick up the ball, then found room around the left side and returned the ball to the Bulls’ 13-yard line.
On the next play, quarterback Noah Crisco found a wide-open Zack Medlin behind the South defense in the endzone for a 13-yard touchdown. Dylan Blalock’s extra point put North up 7-0 four minutes into the game.
South moved the ball well on their next drive as the Bulls drove down to the North 23, including a 23-yard run from Dakota Lewellen. The Bulls fumbled at the North 23 and Riggins recovered.
North’s offense found paydirt next in the second quarter. Riggins finished off a eight-play, 70-yard drive taking 3:45 off the clock to put the Comets up 14-0 with 7:59 left in the first half.
Field position began to work against South late in the second. A Luke Burris’ pass was picked off by Caulder, then the Comets drove down to the South 13 and came up a yard short on fourth down.
After a run and a penalty, Burris dropped back to pass into the endzone and did not see Riggins on his blind side until it was too late. Riggins recorded the sack in the endzone for a safety and a 16-0 North lead heading into halftime.
A heads-up play by North’s Zac Almond gave the Comets a 23-0 lead on the opening kickoff of the second half. South attempted an onside kick, and the ball hit the wet turf and stopped at the 46, well short of the required 10 yards for an onside kick. Before a South player gained possession of the ball, Almond scooped it up and scampered 46 yards downfield for a touchdown.
South’s offense answered on their next possession after a solid kickoff return from Lewellen set up the Bulls at the North 42-yard line. Montrell Brewer gained 36 yards on an end-around, then Malik Lomax scored from two yards out on the next play. South went for a two-point conversion but the pass was knocked away by the Comet defense.
Another lost fumble by the Bulls, recovered by North’s Adrian Brown, set the Comets up on a the South 38. Two plays later, North running back Antonio Williams scored his 13th touchdown of the season for a 30-6 lead. Williams finished the game with 135 yards on 17 carries and now has 1,654 rushing yards on the season.
North’s final touchdown came early in the fourth quarter when Crisco, getting the start at quarterback for the Comets in place of Meleek Thomas, finished off a nine-play drive with a three-yard keeper for the touchdown.
“Noah did a great job; he was called on late this week and responded to the call,” North head coach Ralph Jackson said.
Regarding the team’s defensive efforts, Jackson said, “defense has been our staple this year; they are hungry. We want that intensity on defense.”
The Comets travel to Union Academy (5-4, 4-3) on Friday. With a win and the endowment game loss to Randleman dropped for playoff seeding, the Comets could finish 8-2 on the season and earn the first home playoff game in school history.
Regarding the season, Jackson said that he “gives all the credit to the guys. They had a terrible game last week, but a good week of practice. They knew what their mistakes were.”
South wraps up their regular season on Friday with a road game against Albemarle (see related story, 1B).
NS 7 9 14 6 36
SS 0 0 6 0 6
NS – Zack Medlin 13 pass from Noah Crisco (Dylan Blalock kick), 8:03, 1st
NS – Lacey Riggins 1 run (Blalock kick), 7:59, 2nd
NS – Safety, :33, 2nd
NS – Zac Almond 46 kick return (Blalock kick), 11:57, 3rd
SS – Malik Lomax 2 run (pass failed), 10:19, 3rd
NS – Antonio Williams 10 run (Blalock kick), 4:05, 3rd
NS – Crisco 3 run (kick failed), 10:09, 4th
1st Downs 19 10
Rushing 37-252 38-109
Passing 42 30
C-A-I 4-14-1 5-13-1
Punts 2-38.5 2-25.0
Penalties 9-91 8-76
Fum.-Lst. 1-1 7-3
3rd Down 5-10 4-10
4th Down 0-2 1-4
TOP 22:34 25:26
Rushing: NS – Williams 17-135, TD; Riggins 12-93, TD; Crisco 6-3; Moore 1-18; Clark 1-3. SS – Lewellen 8-64; Lomax 6-16, TD; Holt 4-18; Brewer 3-33; J. Horton 1-0; Johnson 2-(-1); Burris 13-(-20); TEAM 1-2.
Passing: NS – Crisco 4-14, 42 yds., 1 TD, 1 int. SS – Burris 5-13, 30 yds., 1 int.
Receiving: NS – Caulder 2-21; Medlin 1-13; Riggins 1-8. SS – Smith 3-11; Thompson 1-10; Pope 1-9