NEWLAND — An electric offensive attack and a stout defense was the formula for the Avery Vikings in its 51-13 Homecoming victory against the Rosman Tigers Friday night, Sept. 16, at MacDonald Stadium.
Five total touchdowns from junior quarterback Will Stanford, paired with an 86-yard interception return for a touchdown by senior linebacker Landon Hughes, all in the first half, was enough to build an insurmountable lead.
“I’m extremely proud of all these kids and the work they’ve put in this week,” Avery head coach Ethan Farmer said after the game. “We knew that it was going to be a new season coming up, and the kids answered very well.”
The game started positively for both teams offensively, with Stanford scoring a quarterback keeper from the 2-yard line on Avery’s first drive. Rosman quickly responded on its first play from scrimmage, with a 44-yard touchdown run by running back Kreed Smith.
It was all Avery from that point on, with Stanford quickly moving down the field on his second drive, and capping it off with a 18-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Oak Markland, who was able to make a couple of defenders miss on a short catch. A missed extra point made the score 13-6.
After a fumble by Rosman and a punt by Avery, the Vikings were able to find the end zone again at the end of the first quarter, when Stanford zipped the ball to senior wide receiver Elijah Holtsclaw for a 21-yard link-up to make it 20-7 at the end of the first.
The offense continued to produce. After a Rosman three-and-out, Stanford completed his deepest pass of the day to senior wide receiver Latrell Baker early in the second quarter, who outran his defender on a 68-yard go-route and was able to walk into the end zone untouched.
With 6:44 remaining in the half, after a fumble recovery by Rosman, sophomore quarterback Gus Robinson had a short pass intercepted by Avery’s Landon Hughes, who turned it into a Pick Six, racing 86 yards for another touchdown to extend the lead to 34-7.
“We played well, a lot of great offense, a lot of great defense,” Hughes said, a sentiment shared by his twin brother Lukas Hughes. “We came out strong in the first half. We were focused, we came out and fought hard and got the W,” Hughes said.
The first half scoring was still not over at that point, as Stanford escaped for a 70-yard touchdown run following a spectacular one-handed interception by Holtsclaw, ending the first half with a 41-7 lead.
At the half, the Vikings recognized its Homecoming Court during on-field ceremonies, with Latrell Baker and Cassidy Lee named Homecoming King and Queen, respectively.
Upon a return to action, the second half saw less offense and more of an attempt by Avery to run the ball and reduce the likelihood of any Rosman comeback.
Kicker Cayden Parnell was able to add on a field goal with a minute left in the third period after the Vikings defense was able to force a turnover on downs, making the score 44-7 going into the fourth.
The Avery offense was able to break through again with an 18-yard touchdown run by running back Logan Brown with 11 minutes left to go in the game, the team’s third rushing touchdown, to build a 51-7 lead which triggered a running game clock per the NCHSAA 42-point mercy rule.
The final score of the game was a 31-yard pass by Robinson to running back Carson Lyday. A missed PAT left Rosman trailing 51-13.
Avery was able to run the clock out after that, ending the Homecoming night with a first win of the season, leaving the Big Red tied atop the conference standings with a 1-0 mark after the opening week of conference play.
Stanford was able to lead the way for Avery in both the rushing and passing department, ending the night 18-for-30 passing for 282 yards with three touchdowns through the air, as well as collecting 134 yards on seven rushing attempts with two rushing touchdowns. Baker led the way for the receivers, with three catches for 85 yards and a touchdown.
On the defensive side, sophomore defensive end Grayson Holiman led the team with eight tackles and four tackles for loss.
Coach Farmer accredited the big win to the execution by the players.
“Offensively we did pretty good. Defensively we’ve got some work to do, but I was very proud of the kids tonight. They only gave up seven points in the last half,” Farmer noted. “Special teams was good, and like I said, I’m just happy and extremely proud of these kids.”
The Vikings head to Valdese this Friday, Sept. 23, to take on the Draughn Wildcats, who was victorious in its conference opener against Owen.
“To start the conference 1-0, it’s a big deal,” Farmer said, “This gives us the momentum booster that we needed. We’re trying to change the culture, so hopefully we can continue to stay humble, work hard, and get ready for next week.”