Comets dominate in road win over Bulls

The Comets and Rebel Bulls will meet again in the first round NCHSAA 1AA tournament

North Stanly and South Stanly will meet again this Friday in the first round of the NCHSAA 1AA tournament. (Jesse Deal / Stanly County Journal)

NORWOOD — In an offensive showcase, North Stanly recorded six touchdowns – three in the air and three on the ground — en route to a 43-13 victory at South Stanly on Friday night.

The Comets (6-5, 5-1) set the tone for the game with a 31-yard touchdown reception by junior Cooper Hogan on their first drive of the night. It was one of three touchdowns thrown by sophomore quarterback Luke Shaver, who finished with 178 yards from 9-for-15 passing.

North Stanly did most of its damage in the second quarter, racking up 22 points in a 10-minute span.

Senior Chamar Watkins found the end zone with an 8-yard run to make it a 14-0 score. Late in the contest, Watkins notched another touchdown when he broke loose through the middle for a 65-yard dash.

With 3:31 remaining in the first half, the Rebel Bulls (5-6, 3-3) got on the board with a 54-yard rush by Marcus Green. The Comets responded with a 40-yard touchdown reception by Joseph Benfield two minutes later.

Benfield then recovered a South Stanly fumble on the next drive, leading to a 28-yard touchdown by Comets running back Christain Barber. The junior totaled 89 yards from 15 carries, adding to his impressive stat line of 1,031 yards and 14 touchdowns this season.

Despite the lopsided final tally, the Bulls won the third quarter of the game, holding the Comets scoreless and adding some points of their own – a 32-yard touchdown pass thrown by South Stanly’s Jaquez Cooke to Jaderian Smith made it a 29-13 contest.

Smith was the Bulls leading receiver with 100 yards, accounting for nearly half of Cooke’s 204 passing yards from 13-for-26 passing. The senior quarterback also added 58 yards on the ground; his 3.4 yards per carry is his third-lowest average of the year, primarily due to a boisterous effort at the line of scrimmage by the Comets’ defensive line.

“I credit our defense for containing him (Cooke) for the most part — we’ve been working on that in practice,” North Stanly head coach Scott Crisco said. “An athlete like that is going to get loose, but we held him pretty good.”

The star of the final stage of the matchup was Comets running back Karee Dykes, who racked up 91 yards, averaging 8.3 per rush. His effective routes set up a 12-yard touchdown catch by tight end Clayton Shue in the fourth quarter.

Overall, North Stanly notched 464 yards of offense in their 30-point win over South Stanly. The Comets coach attributed most of it to the players on his offensive line.

“Our offensive line played the best it’s played all year,” said Crisco. “We took pride in it, blocked, drove when we needed it, kept the ball going, and kept the clock going; I loved it.”

With the conference victory, the Comets finish the regular season in second place in the Yadkin Valley 1A standings, one game behind North Rowan (8-3, 6-0). The Cavaliers defeated the Comets, 34-8, a few weeks ago in New London. Meanwhile, the Bulls finished in the middle of the pack at fourth place in the conference standings.

The two teams will meet again in the first round of the NCHSAA 1AA tournament this Friday at 7:30 p.m. North Stanly is a No. 7 seed and South Stanly is a No. 10 seed, and the winner will play second-seeded John A. Holmes.