Orange defense crushes Rocky Mount’s playoff hopes
The Orange Panthers’ defense, which allowed 55 points last week to Southern, made a statement in the first round of the NCHSAA 3-AA playoffs Friday.
The defense, aided by big offensive plays from Tay Jones, keyed a 31-3 win over visiting Rocky Mount. Jones had three touchdowns, all of which went for at least 20 yards, to help the Panthers (11-1) book a trip to next week’s second round at Cleveland.
“We thought coming in that their running backs were good,” said Orange coach Pat Moser. “The defense really played well overall.”
Rocky Mount, the No. 11 seed, managed just 229 yards from scrimmage as the Orange defense shut down the running game and harassed Rocky Mount quarterback Joshua Carter into a miserable night. Carter was just 8-of-24 passing for 62 yards, and was sacked seven times. The Gryphons started three drives in Panther territory in the first half and only got three points to show for it.
“They had good field position all night,” Moser said. “That they only got three points is another sign of how well the defense played.”
Artrell Stewart and Garrett Cloer provided the only points the Panthers needed on Orange’s opening drive. Cloer found Stewart racing down the sideline for a 44-yard touchdown, and then Jones took care of the rest.
Jones, a standout running back, had a 20-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, a 24-yard catch-and-run for a score in the second and a twisting 26-yard in the third during which he broke multiple tackles.
“We scored 31 points against a good defense,” said Moser. “They were fast and strong. The points didn’t come easily.”
The only thing coming easily for Rocky Mount was the special teams yardage. Two blocked punts and several long returns kept the Gryphons (8-4) in great position all night.
“We made a few mental mistakes,” Moser said. “The farther we go in the playoffs, the better we have to be.”
ORANGE 31, ROCKY MOUNT 3
Rocky Mount 0 3 0 0 — 3
Orange 14 7 7 3 — 31
O — Artrell Stewart 44 pass from Garrett Cloer (Brad Barbee kick), 8:34.
O — Tay Jones 20 run (Barbee kick), 4:18.
RM — FG Micah Varnell 34, 11:21.
O — Jones 24 pass from Cloer (Barbee kick), 6:17.
O — Jones 26 run (Barbee kick), 5:42.
O — FG Barbee 32, 7:02.
RUSHING — Rocky Mount, Rashawn Harris 2-58, Joseph Cooper 4-43, Broderick Caudle 2-25, Sherrod Greene 6-20, Malik Lewis 6-19, JT Plant 1-14, Antorrio Jones 1-2, Joshua Carter 14-0. Orange, Jones 12-71, Patrick Pettiford 8-32, Michael Bolden 4-16, Mark Holt 2-11, Alex Long 1-4, Cloer 4-(minus-17).
PASSING — Rocky Mount, Carter 8-24-0 62. Orange, Cloer 10-20-1 200.
RECEIVING — Rocky Mount, Caudle 2-18, Lewis 1-20, Harris 2-9, Plant 1-8. Orange, Stewart 4-199, Jones 2-46, Ky Muller 2-28, Jeffrey Campbell 1-4, Pettiford 1-3.
Records-Rocky Mount 8-4, Orange 11-1.