South football rallies; North wins easily

Published 9:28 am Thursday, September 17, 2015

Alex Ratledge, Bryceson Cozart, Jack Reynolds and Evan Little came up big as South Davie’s football team pulled out a roller- coaster, season-opening game against visiting North Davidson on Sept. 9.

South scored late in the fourth quarter to survive 12-11.

“North Davidson is back,” assistant coach Germain Mayfield said. “Their skill players were tough. We just played well.”

The game could not have started any worse, with the Black Knights scoring on the opening kickoff and converting the kick for an 8-0 lead. But late in the first quarter, Ratledge threw a 10-yard touchdown to Cozart, the tight end. The kick failed as North maintained an 8-6 lead. North hit a field goal before halftime for an 11-6 margin.

In the fourth quarter, it was third-and-7 when Ratledge found Reynolds for 36 yards. Now South was in the red zone. On the next play, Ratledge and Little hooked up for 14 yards in the corner of the end zone, giving South the 12-11 lead with three minutes to go.

On North’s last gasp, Lenny Adame broke up a third-down pass and the visitors turned it over on downs with 1:30 remaining. Austin Shaver’s 12-yard run moved the sticks and allowed South to line up in victory formation.

Ratledge completed four of four passes.

“He put us on his back,” Mayfield said. “When things got tight, he made some big runs. He made some good reads keeping the ball.”

Shaver (eight carries for 65 yards), Ratledge (eight for 53) and M.J. Holleman (six for 51) combined for 169 rushing yards.

“Our receivers (Brooks Johnson, Little and Reynolds) blocked so well downfield,” Mayfield said. “They were impressive.”

The defense allowed three points, earning two thumbs up from coach Perry Long. “They all played wonderful,” Long said of the defense, pointing to cornerbacks Ben Crenshaw and Adame, lineman Bishop Norman and linebackers Shaver and Ratledge.

Notes: Brent Wall stepped down as coach after going 32-9 the past five years, including a 6-2 record in 2014. … This is Long’s second stint as coach; he went 18-6 from 2008-10, going 7-1, 6-2 and 5-3. … South is seeking a fourth straight winning season. … South beat North 12-8 last year and has won four in a row over the Knights.

North Davie never gave visiting Tyro a chance, jumping to a 29-0 halftime lead and coasting 35-16 on Sept. 9 to avenge last year’s 11-8 loss on the road.

Seven running backs put up 267 rushing yards, with linemen Caleb Knight, Grant Copeland, Alex Myers, Paul Pollard and Owen Brown and receivers Joe Johnson and Logan Ballou-Tomel paving the way.

North’s touchdowns:

• Justice Redmond scored on a 23-yard run.

• Cornerback Noah Bohannon knocked the ball loose from Tyro’s tailback, and Adrian Cranfill scooped and scored from 30 out.

• Cranfill, who plays outside linebacker and running back, intercepted Tyro to set up Redmond’s 25-yard run to the end zone. One play earlier, Anthony Deters’ 12-yard TD was called back.

• Cranfill broke a 45-yard run. “Cranfill’s tough,” Mayfield said of the star from the county rival. “He’s going to be hard to handle.”

• After a good run by seventh-grader Kristian Lyons, Josh Robinson found the end zone on the ground.

Fourth-year coach George Newman said the key defensive players were cornerbacks Redmond and Bohannon; linebackers Joe Johnson, Isaiah Cuthrell, Ballou-Tomel, Cranfill and Lyons; and linemen Copeland, Brown, Josh Wright, Pollard and Knight.

The Wildcats, who went 4-4 in 2014 and are aiming for their first winning season since the 2009 squad went 5-2, is 1-0 for the first time since 2011’s 35-8 win over Charlotte Country Day.

It had been quite a while since Ellis was undermanned, but that was the case in a 26-0 loss to visiting Lexington that ended the Jaguars’ 11-game winning streak.

This appears to be the strongest Lexington team in several years. The Jaguars were 6-0 in the all-time series, including a 34-0 romp in 2014.

Ellis, which finished 8-0 last year, suffered its first loss since 11-0 to Brown in 2013. This was the worst loss since 30-0 at South Davie in 2009.

Coach Johnny Hill is at the helm for the sixth year. He has a 34-5 record.