Statesville-North Buncombe football

Statesville's Caylon Imes (5) had 148 yards and four touchdowns on seven carries Friday night in the first round of the 3A state playoffs against North Buncombe.

Statesville was the wrong place for North Buncombe to come looking for its first playoff win in more than a decade.

The undefeated Greyhounds scored early and often Friday night on their way to a 49-7 victory in the opening round of the 3A bracket.

See all the photos at the bottom of this article

Nebanye Moore’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Jasaiah Gathings with five seconds left in the second quarter, followed by Sam Buckner’s extra point, capped a 34-point first half.

“It’s the playoffs, and I thought we came out and played well,” Statesville coach Randall Gusler said. “…We set the tempo of the game.”

SUB HED: Where are you running to?

The Black Hawks (7-5), seeded 15th in the West, finished with 127 yards of total offense and 124 of that was rushing.

Their offense is predicated on the ground attack.

“They’re a team that’s rushed for about 280 yards a game,” Gusler said. “I was really glad we stopped the run.”

SUB HED: Picking up where they left off

Leading 34-0, Statesville came out of the halftime break and scored on the opening drive of the third quarter.

The offensive line opened some space, Caylon Imes made a couple of nifty cuts to avoid would-be tacklers, and the senior running back dashed to the end zone. His 43-yard score, on the second play of the period, stretched the lead to 42-0.

That brought the running clock mercy rule into play.

It was the sixth touchdown in as many possessions for the Greyhounds (12-0), seeded second in the West.

It continued to be smooth sailing from there, despite losing the shutout.

“We had to maintain what we were doing,” Gusler said. “There were a lot of penalties in the second half. I think frustration set in for them. We needed to make sure we kept composed. I thought, overall, the guys did.”

SUB HED: First half highlights

With Statesville’s defense not budging much, the Black Hawks went three-and-out on each of their three first-quarter possessions.

It was all gas and no brakes for the Greyhounds offense early. Imes trotted into the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown on their second offensive play. His 47-yard reception from Moore set it up.

Statesville used some trickery on its second drive. Tynan Tucker took the ball from Moore on a reverse. He looked for someone to throw to then pulled the ball in and ran. Aided by some blocks down field he picked up 39 yards. That led to Imes’ second rushing touchdown. His three-yard scamper to the end zone extended the lead to 14-0 five minutes into the game.

Moore connected with Ky’Wuan Dukes for an 18-yard TD strike with 2:33 to go in the opening period, making it 21-0.

Imes’ 22-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter made it 27-0.

SUB HED: By the numbers

Imes shined. He carried the ball seven times for 148 yards and four touchdowns. He caught three passes for 87 yards.

Moore completed 12 of 14 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns. His 72-yard pass play to Amauri Gibbs led to Marquis Dalton’s 8-yard TD run, which punctuated the scoring late in the third quarter.

Trent Cole finished with 64 yards on 11 carries for North Buncombe. Nearly all of that came in the second half. His 4-yard touchdown run with 3:53 left in the third quarter broke up the shutout.

SUB HED: Up next

The Greyhounds will host No. 10 seed Kings Mountain (10-2) in the second round. The Mountaineers blew out No. 7 seed West Henderson (9-3) on Friday, 56-7.

If the next opponent looks familiar it should. Kings Mountain ended Statesville’s season in 2018 with a 35-21 second-round playoff victory. That was in Greyhound Hollow. The Mountaineers went on to reach the 3A West region final.

“Our guys are excited to play them again,” Gusler said. “They’re the team that knocked us out last year.”

There are those who believe the winner of this second round game has the best chance to win the West region title and advance to the state championship game.

“One week at a time,” Gusler said. “I’m glad we’re playing them here again.”

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