Comets fall to Trojans in road thriller
By Jesse Deal, for the SNAP
Football games don’t get much more competitive than the one played at Northwest Cabarrus Wednesday night.
With five lead changes in the second half, the final turnaround ultimately made the difference as the Trojans (4-0) claimed a 28-24 victory over the North Stanly Comets (2-2).
With 3:55 left in the matchup, the visitors seemingly had the home team on the ropes. The Comets held a three-point advantage — having finally figured out how to slow down the Trojans’ powerhouse running game — and were now forcing them to punt from deep in their own territory.
In order to win, Northwest Cabarrus would have to depend on its defense to get a chance to notch the go-ahead score. But then the unthinkable happened: a roughing-the-kicker penalty called on the Comets gave the Trojans new life.
It was a controversial call, as it appeared that little-to-no contact was made by North Stanly’s defense.
Comet fourth-year head coach Scott Crisco gave a resounding “No comment,” on the penalty’s accuracy.
A few plays later, the Trojans faced a fourth-and-six at their own 29-yard line. Junior quarterback Nick Wilds-Lawing responded by throwing a 12-yard dart to tight end Karsen Perkins’s outstretched hands.
Star running back Tyrese Blake and junior wideout Cam Saunders each made explosive plays leading the Trojans down the field in a two-minute drill style offense. On a third-and-two from the 15-yard line, Wilds-Lawing ran a quarterback keeper along the left sideline all the way in what became the game-winning play of the night.
The Comets only had a minute left to score the necessary touchdown, but a tipped pass by senior Bailey Baker was snagged by Trojan safety Caleb Funderburk, effectively ending the contest.
“I told our guys I was as proud of them with this four-point loss tonight as I was with our win last Friday night (a 29-14 home victory over Providence Day),” Crisco said.
“We played hard to the end,” he added. “We were outnumbered two to one; they had about 60 guys and we had about 30, but we took them to wire.”
The frenetic ending of the game was quite different than the defense-centric first half of the game, in which each team recorded only a single touchdown by their lead running backs.
Comet Cameron Davis had a scoring run in the first quarter while Blake found the end zone with 29 seconds left in the half.
An interception thrown by Wilds-Lawing on the third quarter’s opening play led to a 38-yard field goal by North Stanly’s Addison Cord.
Thirty seconds later, Blake juked out six Comets en route to an 80-yard touchdown run, putting the Trojans up 14-10 after the extra point. Not to be outdone, Davis soon turned a dreadful field position situation for the Comets into a 99-yard touchdown sprint.
Northwest Cabarrus running back Eli Eason and North Stanly running back DJ Rhone also had second-half touchdown runs, adding to the back-and-forth nature of the game’s conclusion.
Despite the loss, Crisco is excited about how his team’s backfield will perform going forward this season.
“We proved that when they get in space, they are going to be hard to contend with, especially in conference play,” he said. “We just took two 3A teams’ best shots in a matter of five days.”
Jesse Deal is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.
North Stanly 24, Northwest Cabarrus 28
NS 7 0 10 7 24
NC 0 7 14 7 28
NS – Cameron Davis 12-yard run (Cord kick), 5:29, 1st
NC – Tyrese Blake one-yard run (Sistoque kick), 0:29, 2nd
NS – Cord 38-yard field goal, 10:57, 3rd
NC – Blake 80-yard run (Sistoque kick), 10:24, 3rd
NS – Davis 99-yard run (Cord kick), 6:56, 3rd
NC – Eli Eason 10-yard run (Sistoque kick), 3:45, 3rd
NS – DJ Rhone 63-yard run (Cord kick), 10:57, 4th
NC – Nick Wilds-Lawing 15-yard run (Sistoque kick), 1:14, 4th