By Michael Hughes
PUMPKIN CENTER –– South Iredell continued to crush the opposition in 2013.
Using an explosive, balanced, and fast-paced spread offense, the reigning 2AA state champion breezed to its 11th consecutive win with Friday’s 48-0 runaway victory at North Lincoln.
The Vikings, bumped to the 3A ranks this fall, scored 31 first-quarter points and built a 41-0 halftime lead while coasting to their first conference win of the season. Senior wideout Michael Fisher had two touchdown runs for the visitors and added a two-point conversion to go with his 108 yards rushing on seven carries.
“They’re a very good football team,” said North Lincoln coach David Maness, whose team was held scoreless for the first time in 10 games. “We knew they had the potential to be this kind of team, and they were very good.”
Winning quarterback Alex Crosby finished with 11 completions and 152 yards passing. The senior’s three scoring strikes in the first quarter ignited the high-scoring Vikings (5-0, 1-0), who opened league play in the new North Piedmont 3A/4A Conference.
Crosby spread the wealth to seven receivers, led by De’Andre Rankin’s four catches for 95 yards and two touchdown receptions.
“We’ve still got a lot of things to work on,” said humble South Iredell coach Scott Miller. “We’re young, and we didn’t do very well with our pass defense in the second half.”
Less than three minutes into the game the Vikings, who have outscored their last three opponents 142-6, blocked a punt attempt on North Lincoln’s first series to set up Nolan Johnson’s first field goal from 24 yards.
A fumble recovery at the Knights 9 led to South Iredell’s second score, an 11-yard pass from Crosby to Jaylon Stockton.
Crosby connected with Rankin less than three minutes later on an 11-yard touchdown pass. Following Fisher’s 37-yard score at 2:27, the pair hooked up again in the flats for a 58-yard scoring strike with 44 seconds to go in the first.
Fisher’s 16-yard TD run and Johnson’s second field goal, a 32-yard boot with 1:33 left in the second quarter, ended the first-half scoring.
Stockton’s 89-yard touchdown return of the second-half kickoff emptied the bench for South Iredell and kept the clock running.
“I see some bright spots,” said Maness, whose Knights (1-4, 0-1) travel to 4A Alexander Central this Friday, “but we still struggled offensively (in the first half)” — giving their swift opponents more opportunities with the football.
North Lincoln was led by junior Ethan Gram’s 49 yards rushing on nine carries.
The Knights reached the South Iredell 2 late in the third quarter but were unable to punch it in.