Mustangs Fall to Warriors
After waiting a month to play in front of the home folks, the North Moore football team opened its Yadkin Valley Conference season with a good crowd on hand as the Mustangs hosted West Montgomery.
While the 42-6 outcome wasn’t what the Mustangs fans wanted to witness, they did watch a team that was scrappy and didn’t quit.
The visiting Warriors put the ball on the ground seven times and aggressive Mustangs came up with the loose balls on six of those fumbles. Plus the Mustangs recovered an onside kick late in the contest, showing good hustle plays.
Looking at the final score, one wouldn’t believe that midway through the second quarter, the Warriors were up only 13-0 and the Mustangs had just kept West out of the end zone by falling on one of their six fumble recoveries. Then as in past games, the flood gates of disasters opened on North Moore as the Warriors scored 22 points in the final 5:57 of the first half.
“You never feel good about a loss or going 0-5,” said North Moore head coach Greg Simmons. “But the kids played hard and didn’t quit. I think anyone that’s seen us play knows that we’re going in the right direction and we’re close to getting a win. The kids didn’t quit and kept playing hard until the end.
“West Montgomery is a good football team as good as anyone we’ve played this year. They had to earn what they got against us.”
North Moore won the opening toss and deferred until the second half. The Warriors, 3-2 overall and 1-0 in the league, took their first possession on their 30-yard line.
With West’s junior quarterback Caleb Drake doing most of the damage, the Warriors reached the Mustangs’ end zone in seven plays despite enduing two penalties. Senior Devante Gainey ran final nine yards for the touchdown. The Warriors’ Walker Harrison booted the extra point, giving West a 7-0 lead with 8:14 left in the first quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Harrison booted the kickoff into the end zone forcing North Moore to start on its 20-yard line. The Mustangs put together a seven-play drive that ended at the midfield stripe where they turned the ball over on downs.
On the Warriors’ first play, a bad pitch resulted in the first West fumble and Mustang Adrian Wall pounced on the loose ball at the Warriors’ 46-yard line. But three straight incomplete passes forced the Mustangs to punt.
After the Mustang punt by Gerbacio Cabrera pinned the Warriors on their 15-yard line, they were on the march again. This time sophomore Rykeem Robinson picked up the bulk of the yardage, ripping off runs of 29 and 22 yards with the 22-yarder being for the score. The extra-point attempt was wide, leaving West on top 13-0 with 2.9 seconds left in the opening frame.
Once again Harrison’s kick traveled into the end zone, forcing the Mustangs to start at the 20-yard line. The Mustangs failed to move the ball and punted from their 14-yard line.
West held the ball for more than four minutes, reaching the one-yard line. After the Mustangs’ interior line held on the first attempt at the touchdown, on the second attempt the ball popped loose and North Moore recovered at the one.
It started downhill for the Mustangs when the North Moore runner was tackled in the end zone for a safety, giving West a 15-0 lead.
On the ensuing free kick, the Warriors got good field position at the Mustangs’ 46-yard line. It took West only five plays to reach pay dirt, with junior Matt Harkins going the final four yards. Once again the extra point sailed wide, leaving West on top 21-0 with 4:05 left in the half.
On the kickoff, Wall gathered the ball in on the two-yard line, returning the kick 41 yards to the 43. Wall finished with 67 return yards and added 22 more yards rushing. But the Mustangs couldn’t take advantage of their field position and Cabrera launched a 41-yard punt, pinning West at its 29-yard line.
Drake went to work again during the drive, carrying the ball three times for a total of 52 yards, including a 28-yard run for the score. Drake finished the game scoring two touchdowns and rushing for 206 yards while hitting on four of six passes for 19 yards. Harrison converted the extra point, giving West a 28-0 lead with 58 seconds left in the half.
With the clock winding down and the Mustangs wanting to put some points on the board before the half, they went to the air. But on the second play, the Warriors sent a blitz and sacked the quarterback and the ball came loose. West sophomore defensive lineman Aaron Goins scooped the ball up and raced 35 yards for the touchdown. With Harrison’s kick, West had posted 22 points in a matter of 5:57.
The second half played out much different than the first half, with the Mustangs dominating the yardage and time of possession. The Mustangs had seven first downs to the Warriors’ two and North held the ball for 19 minutes and 54 seconds during the half.
The Warriors’ lone second-half score came with 4:33 left in the third period when West got the ball at the Mustangs’ 48-yard line after a short Mustang punt. It took Drake only one play to cover the distance, giving West a 42-0 lead.
But the Mustangs refused to quit and after getting the ball on their 39-yard on one of the fumbles, they started their scoring drive.
Sophomore quarterback Kirby Lambert hooked up with Landon Auman for an 11-yard gain to midfield. After one of North Moore’s five penalties moved the ball back five yards, Wall took a handoff and went 22 yards down to the Warriors’ 33-yard line.
After a misfire on a pass, Lambert threw deep and the Warriors were penalized for pass interference, putting the ball at the 18-yard line. Luke Auman picked up nine yards to the nine-yard line and Lambert added two yards, giving North a first down at the seven. Luke Auman wrestled his way to the one, then scored on the next play. The extra-point attempt was blocked, leaving the Mustangs trailing 48-6.
North wasn’t finished and on the ensuing kickoff, kicker Michael McNeill executed a near perfect onside kick that the Mustangs recovered at the Warriors’ 41-yard line. With the clock winding down, the Mustangs picked up a first down on fourth down when Luke Auman scrabbled out the pocket for 13 yards to the 29-yard line. Then Lambert hooked up Justin Allred for a 25-yard gain down to the four-yard line. The Mustangs had a couple of cracks at the end zone, but the clock ran out before they could score.
Luke Auman finished with 37 yards rushing while twin brother Landon had 22 yards rushing and added three receptions for 15 yards. Allred had the one reception for 25 yards. Lambert connected on two of eight passes for 36 yards.
Caleb Drake had a career best effort, rushing for 206 yards on 10 carries. Gainey finished with 79 yards on eight carries for the Warriors while Robinson had three rushes for 52 yards.
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