By Jonathan E. Coleman
After rain delayed Sun Valley’s trip to Hickory Ridge Friday, the Spartans wasted no time getting into the action Monday, easily defeating the Bulls 41-14.
Sun Valley scored five touchdowns on its first six possessions to take a 34-7 lead into halftime. The only blemish of the half came on a fumble in the first quarter of play.
Hickory Ridge answered the offensive pressure early, scoring its only touchdown of the half just four plays after Spartans running back Darious Kirtz ran in from nine yards out.
The Bulls evened the score with a four-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Brett Lilly.
Then, Spartan quarterback Andy Capone took over, going 8-for-11 with 211 yards passing, including three touchdowns in the air in the half. Capone tossed a 58-yard pass to Dustin Cook and then hooked up with Andre McManus for a 65-yard touchdown with 4:33 to play in the half. His third passing score came on a 12-yard pass to Tony Davis.
“We feel like we’ve got one of the best quarterbacks in North Carolina,” said Spartans’ coach Scott Stein.
It was big plays by the Spartans – including a 90-yard kickoff return by BJ Mosley to start the second half – that put a win out of reach for the Bulls.
“We figured if we could stop their big plays we’d do OK,” Hickory Ridge head coach Marty Paxton said. “Obviously by the score, we didn’t do that. Once they started making big plays, I think some of our players got their heads down.”
After the Spartans’ kickoff return, Lilly lead the Bulls down field and scored his second rushing touchdown of the night from five yards out with 1:39 to play in the third quarter. It would be the final score for either team. Lilly finished the game 9-for-16 passing for 89 yards and with seven rushes for 91 yards, including the two scores.
The Spartans controlled the clock in the second half, opting to run the ball, largely behind Kirtz. The senior finished the game with 15 carries for 143 yards and two touchdowns.
Despite the 27-point win, Stein said his team still has some work to do, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
“I would have liked a little more focus defensively,” he said. “That’s continues to be an emphasis for us. We’ve got to do a better job of tackling.”
One advantage of the rain delay, Paxton said, is that it doesn’t give his team time to dwell on the loss before getting ready to travel to Anson County Friday.
“There’s no time to look back at this one,” he said.
Sun Valley hosts Porter Ridge.
• Contact reporter Jonathan E. Coleman: 704-789-9105.