TROUTMAN—Statesville turned it on in the second half Friday night, overtaking South Iredell to win a North Piedmont Conference opener between teams that shared the league championship last season.
The 33-13 victory also snapped the Greyhounds’ three-game losing streak in the series.
“Got that monkey off our backs,” Statesville coach Randall Gusler said.
Ruling the third quarter
The Greyhounds (7-0, 1-0) scored on the opening possession of the second half to take a 14-10 lead and never looked back. They outscored the Vikings (2-5, 0-1) 20-3 in the period.
“The third quarter was good to us again,” Gusler said.
It was still just a one-point game after Cody Hazelton made a 22-yard field goal. That brought South Iredell within 14-13 with 4 minutes, 42 seconds left in the period.
Statesville quarterback Nebanye Moore narrowly avoided a sack on the ensuing possession. The junior dumped the ball off to running back Caylon Imes, and Imes took it the distance for a 57-yard touchdown reception.
Leading 21-13, the Greyhounds forced a turnover when the Vikings got the ball back. Quarterback Bryce Klinger hooked up with Darius Smyre for a quality 15-yard pass across midfield that was going to move the chains.
But, Statesville defensive back Daquanta Dobbins stripped the ball away from Smyre and recovered the loose ball.
It briefly looked as though the Vikings may dodge a bullet there. The Greyhounds faced third and long when Moore hit Jasaiah Gathings with a medium-range pass that appeared would end several yards shy of a first down. But Gathings busted through a couple of tackles along the right sideline and took the ball to the end zone for a 41-yard TD reception.
“We’re thinking two plays to get a first down there and Jasaiah makes a big play for us,” Gusler said.
Players of the game
Statesville receiver Ky’Wuan Dukes and defensive lineman Jason Shuford were named the N.C. Farm Bureau Insurance Offensive and Defensive Players of the Game.
Shuford continued to show why he’ll be a candidate for NPC defensive player of the year. The 6-foot-3, 295-pounder registered a sack and stopped ball carriers four times for a loss.
Dukes finished with 11 receptions for 155 yards.
“I thought Dukes had a great game,” Gusler said. “That one pass early in the game went through his hands and they intercepted, but he stayed focused and did a great job.”
First half highlights
South Iredell struck first and did so after Tavion Connor intercepted the tipped ball to Dukes. It led to an 18-yard Alterek Adams touchdown run with 39 seconds left in the first quarter.
Statesville answered on the ensuing possession. Moore connected with Dukes for a 23-yard pass, and then Imes paired 19- and 11-yard runs to move the ball to the Vikings’ 6-yard line. Two plays later Quantay Brown punched it into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown run.
The Vikings’ following drive, which ate up 8 minutes, 37 seconds of clock, resulted in a Hazelton 25-yard field goal that gave them a 10-7 advantage with 7 seconds left in the half.
The Greyhounds only had two offensive possessions during the first two quarters.
“I thought (South Iredell coach Scott Miller) had a great game plan,” Gusler said. “They were milking the clock.”
By the numbers
Moore completed 17 of 21 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns.
Gathings hauled in two of Moore’s TD tosses during the third quarter. In addition to his 41-yarder, the junior made a 15-yard TD grab on a fourth down and 8 play. That score put Statesville head 14-10.
Imes carried the ball 15 times for 101 yards and a TD to complement his 57-yard scoring catch.
Klinger was 14 of 28 passing for 210 yards. Smyre had five catches for 98 yards. Garrett Page caught four balls for 61 yards. Josh Sherrill’s 51-yard reception set up Hazelton’s third-quarter field goal.
Adams led the South Iredell rushing attack with 58 yards and a TD on 13 carries.
Statesville hosts North Iredell next week.
South Iredell travels to Mt. Ulla next week to take on West Rowan.
SI—Alterek Adams 18 run (Cody Hazelton kick), :39.
S—Quantay Brown 1 run (Sam Buckner kick), 8:44.
SI—Hazelton 25 FG, :07.
S—Jasaiah Gathings 15 pass from Nebanye Moore (Buckner kick), 8:22.
SI—Hazelton 22 FG, 4:42.
S—Caylon Imes 57 pass from Moore (Buckner kick), 3:56.
S—Gathings 41 pass from Moore (pass failed), :00.
S—Imes 1 run (pass failed), 2:00.