BEAR CREEK — Jaquez Cooke left little doubt Friday night why South Stanly mentor Ryan Ochier regards him as probably the best all-around athlete he’s coached in his 22 years on the …
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BEAR CREEK — Jaquez Cooke left little doubt Friday night why South Stanly mentor Ryan Ochier regards him as probably the best all-around athlete he’s coached in his 22 years on the sidelines.
Proving his worth as a one-man wrecking crew, the six-foot, 190-pound senior quarterback rushed 13 times for 92 yards and three scores, completed nine-of-15 aerials for 101 yards, was on the receiving end of a touchdown toss and intercepted a pass from his defensive back position as the Rowdy Rebel Bulls overcame a sluggish start to disappoint an overflow Chatham Central Homecoming crowd by stampeding to a 56-10 Yadkin Valley 1A Conference victory over the winless Bears.
Climbing to 3-1 in the league standings and 5-4 for the season, South Stanly defeated Chatham Central for the 12th consecutive time while improving to 20-2 overall in their series that began in 1989, whereas the Bears dropped to 0-4 in the conference and 0-9 for the year.
Rebel Bulls’ running back Marcus Green, returning to action on the gridiron after missing the last five weeks due to an injury, rambled for 157 yards and one touchdown on just nine carries – all in the first half – while Jaderian Smith added 71 yards and a score on five totes besides connecting with Cooke on a 27-yard TD pass as South Stanly outgained its host 482-114 in total yardage.
Malachi Moore grinded out a tough 39 yards on 13 lugs to lead Chatham Central’s ground attack, which finished the evening with minus-two net yards rushing, while Michael Moore completed 10-of-33 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown but was intercepted twice.
“We started out slow, and I think early on we took Chatham Central for granted,” said Ochier.
“But once we began to get some defensive stops and effectively mix things up on offense,” he said, “we finally gained some momentum and there was no looking back. Jaquez Cooke is such a dual threat with his arm and feet and does a great job reading defenses to take what they give him, while we rotated a lot of guys up front on defense to keep constant pressure up the middle and force their quarterback to throw on the run.”
Bears’ coach Sherman Howze remarked after getting off to a good start his team sputtered on offense and was never able to regain its early intensity.
“I thought we did a good job the first quarter controlling both sides of the ball, but we can’t be satisfied when we take a lead,” stated Howze.
“Our main goal tonight,” he said, “was to contain Cooke but he was just too much for us to handle. While the final score might not indicate it, I felt like we had one of our better defensive efforts of the year making hard hits along with four sacks. But we struggled on offense when they kept forcing Michael Moore out of the pocket and didn’t give him much time to throw, while we left points on the field by dropping some catchable balls.”
Following an exchange of possessions at the outset, Chatham Central mounted an impressive 11-play, 61-yard scoring march kept alive by Michael Moore connecting on three key third-down completions – two to Hunter Strickland and one to Malachi Moore – before capping off the drive when Malachi Moore made a diving catch in the left side of the end zone on a 14-yard toss from Michael Moore prior to Abad de la Sancha booting the point-after to put the Bears up 7-0 with 3:49 to go in the initial period.
But the tide began to turn less than two minutes into the second quarter when a bad snap from center on a Chatham Central punting situation resulted in the Rebel Bulls gaining possession of the pigskin at the Bears’ 12.
Three plays later Cooke ran wide left the last three yards to the goal line before Jacob Garris, who was successful on six-of-eight extra-point attempts, split the uprights to forge a 7-7 tie with 9:17 remaining in the stanza.
After holding Chatham Central to a three-and-out series on its next possession, South Stanly set up in punt formation when it faced a fourth-and-10 situation at the Bears’ 48 prior to Cooke taking a direct snap from center, angling to his right and sprinting the distance to the corner of the end zone to give the Rebel Bulls a 14-7 advantage with 5:43 left in the second period.
Following another three-and-out series by Chatham Central, South Stanly began its next possession at its own 33, and on the first play from scrimmage Green raced 66 yards to the Bears’ one before lunging across the goal line over right tackle one play later to boost the Rebel Bulls’ lead to 21-7 with 3:22 to go in the first half.
Regaining possession after a failed fourth-down gamble by Chatham Central at the South Stanly 27 with 2:02 remaining until intermission, the Rebel Bulls went 73 yards in five plays to increase their advantage to 27-7 with 1:04 left until the break.
The payoff came when Cooke lateraled the ball to Smith in the backfield and slipped into the right flat prior to receiving a pass from his running back to complete a 27-yard scoring play.
After Malachi Moore returned the ensuing kickoff 42 yards to the South Stanly 33, the Bears then advanced to the Rebel Bulls’ seven before the march stalled and de la Sancha came on to kick a 25-yard field goal to close the margin to 27-10 with 18.3 seconds to go until halftime.
South Stanly received the second-half kickoff and promptly traveled 89 yards in seven plays to extend its lead to 34-10, climaxing the march when Cooke broke several tackles on a 21-yard scamper up the middle with 9:26 remaining in the third quarter.
Following another exchange of possessions, Chatham Central attempted to punt from deep in its own territory when de la Sancha had to chase down another bad snap from center and was tackled in the end zone for a safety, expanding the Rebel Bulls’ advantage to 36-10 with 4:52 left in the stanza.
South Stanly’s Quavi Caraway then gathered in the ensuing kickoff and returned it 56 yards to the Bears’ 26, and four plays later Devin Green dashed the final 13 yards off left guard to stretch the winners’ lead to 43-10 with 2:56 to go in the third period.
Eight plays into the fourth quarter Rebel Bulls’ defensive back Logan Lilly scooped up a Malachi Moore fumble at the South Stanly eight and took it 92 yards to the house to lengthen the spread to 50-10 with 7:35 remaining to play.
Following Cooke’s pick of a Michael Moore pass at the Rebel Bulls’ 40 with 6:20 left in the contest, the visitors from Norwood tallied the final points of the night by marching 60 yards in eight plays, culminating the drive when Smith scurried wide left the last 11 yards to the goal line with 2:36 showing on the clock.