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Vols pitch a shutout in win over NC

Posted: September 19, 2016 4:05 p.m.
Updated: September 20, 2016 1:00 a.m.

As he watched Andrew Jackson defense on film, North Central head coach Louis Clyburn knew that his offense might have its hands full in dealing with the Volunteers.

As it turned out, Clyburn was right when he did not want to be but said his own team had a lot to do with AJ’s leaving Boonetown with a 26-0 victory in Friday’s Region 4-AA opener for both sides.

The Knights (3-2) were held to a season-low 116 yards in offense with 46 of those (also a low for 2016) coming on the ground. The biggest reason for those numbers could be traced to NC having half of its 14 third down situations being of 12 or more yards in order to pick up a first down.

That is not going to cut it or, is it a recipe for success.

“When you have third and 12 all night,” Clyburn said, “those are tough plays to call and they are also tough yards to get. We were behind the chains all night. The best way to avoid third and long situations is to be successful on first and second downs.”

The win was the third in four starts for the Volunteers who were making their second appearance in Kershaw County after having lost to Camden in last month’s Camden Shrine Club Jamboree. Clyburn said people who judged AJ on that night’s performance did not get the entire picture.

“Give credit to Andrew Jackson,” said Clyburn, who coached one season at AJ before coming to North Central. “A lot of people had a skewed view of them after seeing them play Camden in the jamboree. AJ moved the ball on Camden that night but Camden just big-played them. And, AJ beat Aynor, which was ranked fourth or fifth in the state. Aynor is a good running team but they couldn’t move the ball on AJ, either.”

The one time the Knights were able to make the Volunteer defense pay, the play was negated by a block in the back.

In a scoreless game in the first quarter, Cedrick Cunningham took the snap in the wildcat set on the Knights’ third offensive series and sailed for a 60-yard touchdown only for the play to be brought back by the illegal block. Clyburn argued his case that the block was clean but to no avail as his offense quickly found itself in another third and double-digit situation.

The Vols got the ball back via a punt and scored the only points of the first half when a long, well-defended pass set up a Dalton Haven touchdown run. NC blocked the PAT kick to keep the deficit at 6-0.

“That was a huge momentum swing. It was a 14-point swing,” Clyburn said of the called back run which led to the AJ scoring drive.

NC ended the first half with a pair of unsuccessful passes into the end zone and trailed, 6-0, after a first 24 minutes in which the hosts had just 40 yards in offense.

“Their defense is pretty playmakers, on the outside. We tried to pass them the ball to get them on the corner after AJ was stopping the run.”

Trailing 6-0 in the third, the Knights drove into the AJ red zone only to pick up four yards on a fourth and six play. The Vols took over deep in their own territory and used a long pass play to set up a second Haven scoring run. The hosts stuffed the two-point run but still trailed, 12-0.

The Knights then went on a 12-play drive only for it to stall as AJ went back on offense after stopping an NC fourth and three play. “We had more than enough time left in the game to come back and win it,” Clyburn said.

The ensuing series led to backup quarterback Braden Phillips going in on a short scoring run to hike the lead to 20-0 in the fourth quarter.

Clyburn said part of the reason for his team’s offensive troubles was that the Knights are starting five sophomores on that side of the football. “We have 17 seniors on our team but we are still having to teach our young kids our offense,” he said. “We have to teach them that getting first downs on third downs is critical to our success.”

With a winless Great Falls team coming to Boonetown this Friday, Clyburn said this week will be all about getting his team on the same page before closing the regular season with five conference games beginning next Friday with Lee Central.

“We have to get better as a team,” he said. “I told our kids that we can still have a great season but that we just got whipped up front (against AJ.) We have to be able to block better and be able to make plays, especially being able to get first downs when we get into the red zone.”

 

Knight Lights: Clyburn said the injury sustained by starting quarterback Tyler Faulkenberry will probably keep the sophomore out of this week’s game. That will give Cunningham, Jones and Jamel Jones time under center … Cunningham led the Knights with 60 yards on 18 carries for an offense which lost 54 yards on 32 running plays … Faulkenberry threw for 64 yards on a 7-for-18 night. Markell Portee had three catches for 26 yards … AJ had 316 yards in offense with 174 of those coming on the ground … Jamel Jones had a team-best nine tackles for NC while Cunningham was next with seven stops.good,” Clyburn said of the Vols. “We tried to get the ball to Cedrick and Zach (Jones), our two biggest 

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