The Blue Devils felt the sting of the Salisbury Hornets Friday night in a humbling 52-12 first-round 2AA state playoff loss at Thomas E. Brown Stadium in Maiden.
In a game dominated by Salisbury from start to finish, the Blue Devils found themselves down 21-0 after three turnovers turned into three Hornet touchdowns in the opening quarter of play.
Senior quarterback Vance Honeycutt, a UNC baseball commit, ran for all three first-quarter Salisbury scores, including a 73-yard jaunt near the end of the opening period.
Maiden would get on the board early in the second quarter when junior quarterback Ethan Rhodes connected with Brennan James from two yards out, and appeared to have an opportunity to climb back into the game if they could get a stop on a fourth-and-13 play at the Blue Devils 21 yard line.
But Honeycutt found junior receiver Marcus Cook in the end zone for another Salisbury score, extending the lead to 28-6.
Hornets kicker Wade Robbins tacked on a 26-yard field goal late in the period that gave Salisbury a commanding 31-6 lead at the half.
And while Maiden did score on a 70-yard scoring pass from Rhodes to sophomore receiver Chris Culliver in the third period, the Hornets put three more touchdowns on the board with runs of 57, 4 and 4 yards to leave any doubt as to who would advance to the second round on this particular Friday night.
Salisbury ran for a whopping 478 yards on the night, led by Honeycutt’s 236 yards on 20 carries and three rushing touchdowns. Sophomore running back JiMikaah Wells, a 5-foot-9, 223 pound bruiser, also eclipsed the 200-yard mark with 21 carries for 210 yards and a pair of scores. Honeycutt completed 2 of his five pass attempts for 43 yards and a touchdown.
Maiden, who was held to minus-13 yards on the ground, did throw for 266 yards and a pair of scores. Rhodes completed 17 of his 35 attempts, including the two Blue Devil touchdowns. Salisbury picked off five Maiden passes.
James, playing in his final game as a Blue Devil, caught seven passes for 107 yards and a touchdown, and Culliver hauled in five receptions for 126 yards and a score.
Salisbury will play at Burns this Friday in a second-round matchup. Fellow Central Carolina Conference members Oak Grove and North Davidson were also winners on Friday, and will face each other this week.
The Blue Devils season does come to an end, but not without success. Maiden went a perfect 6-0 in the South Fork 2A, claiming the conference championship. (Published April 19, 2021)