NEW LONDON — Facing a 12-point deficit in the closing minutes of Friday’s home matchup against North Rowan, North Stanly nearly pulled off an improbable comeback victory.
The Comets (1-2, 0-0 Yadkin Valley) drove down the field with ease, adding eight points to the board with a touchdown and two-point conversion via senior running back Karee Dykes.
Three plays later, the Cavaliers (2-0, 0-0 Central Carolina) seemingly fumbled the ball near their own end zone into the hands of the Comets, a miscue that would have set up North for some possible late-game heroics.
After further review, officials ruled that North Rowan’s player was down before the ball slipped out of his hands. The Cavaliers went on to convert a first down and run out the clock to hold onto a 36-32 road win.
“If we had the ball at the end, I feel that we may have had a shot,” North Stanly coach Scott Crisco said. “I give credit to North Rowan — they did a really good job running their game plan. Our boys fought hard and didn’t give up. As a coach, that’s what I’m proud of because we can build from that.”
Crisco said he “could hang his hat on” his team’s resiliency in a game where North had four players and two coaches missing due to quarantine protocol and two more players out with injuries.
Although it was a back-and-forth matchup, the first score of the night gave the Comets their only lead of the game. Quarterback Luke Shaver scrambled for a 12-yard touchdown run at the 5-minute mark in the first quarter. The senior later added three touchdown passes in the loss.
The Cavaliers responded with consecutive touchdown drives to take the lead. On the second score, junior wide receiver Amari McArthur eluded multiple Comets during a routine 15-yard catch that he turned into an 81-yard run to the end zone.
Freshman quarterback Jeremiah Alford connected with McArthur on three touchdown passes on the night that all surpassed 50 yards in post-catch yardage.
Shortly before halftime, North Stanly was able to pin down North Rowan at the 1-yard line after a perfectly executed punt, leading to a safety on a sack that narrowed the Cavaliers’ lead to 12-10 after two quarters.
North Rowan opened up the third quarter with a 12-yard touchdown dash by Jaemias Morrow that was followed up by a 33-yard score by North Stanly’s Stefan Harris. Comet senior wideout Clay Hatley was then had a touchdown catch that narrowed the gap to four, but North Stanly was unable to close the gap.
The Comets are still searching for an opponent for this week’s game because West Stanly announced last week that both their varsity and junior varsity teams will be unable to play for two weeks because of COVID-19 protocols.