PREP FOOTBALL: Foard gets throttled by Maiden in season opener

Blue Devils' running back, Amarion Craig, aids his team to a 48-24 victory on Friday, August 23. (Photo by Gene Leatherman)
Marcus Smith
Sports Editor

Its season opener at home didn’t go quite as anticipated for the Tigers. Foard (0-1) would be devastated by the visiting Blue Devils (1-0), 48-24.

The Blue Devils had the opening drive after Foard chose to defer to begin the match-up and opened the game up emphatically. On the first drive, Maiden would march its way down into the red zone off of a ground and pound effort by senior Dylan Abernethy and junior Amarion Craig. There were a couple of mishaps down in enemy territory in the first series -- including a false start penalty and even a sack on the young signal caller Ethan Rhodes by Tigers' defensive back, Devin Aiken for a six yard loss. However, the sophomore quarterback made up for it by connecting on a 12-yard touchdown pass to Abernethy for the team's first score of the night to lead 6-0.

On the other side of the ball, the Tigers' run game attempted to compete with that of Maiden as Corey Siemer and Cameron Gore took turns on the hand-offs by quarterback Will Frye. The point was probably moot though, as neither could find the end zone in the first half. Siemer finished the opening half with 30 yards on eight carries while Gore picked up 22 yards on four carries.

In the first half, it was all Maiden as running back Craig led the way with 53 yards on 12 carries and one rushing touchdown. Rhodes would go 9-for-12 for 113 yards with one rushing TD and one passing TD to lead going into the break, 21-0.

Much of the same would transpire coming into the third quarter as Foard would falter to the Blue Devils even more. With the ability to return on the first kickoff of the second half, the Tigers would blow its opportunity to build new momentum as a muffed catch attempt on the return proved costly, giving the ball right back into Maiden's hands.

With the ball on Foard's 33-yard line, the Blue Devils took advantage of its opposition's mistake and scored once more on a three-play drive to lead, 28-0. On the first play of this drive, Rhodes would connect on one of the go-to receivers on the night in Abernethy for 23 yards. Then, Abernethy pushed his way in the backfield for a one-yard gain to set up Craig for the 11-yard rushing TD, while kicker Adrian Campos connected on the PAT.

Foard would then get its chance to alter its luck only to squander it once again, this time in a six-play series that resulted in a turnover on downs on 4th and 2 in which Siemer lost two yards on the hand-off.

The Blue Devils capitalized again on the Tigers' turnover after starting on its own 30-yard line. In a three-play effort, Protected by his offensive line, Rhodes stayed poised in the pocket and when he saw an opening down the right side of the field he went for it to connect on the biggest TD pass of the evening in his first career start to lead 34-0. Rhodes launched a deep pass to wide-out, Brennan James for a 65-yard TD and put the Tigers and everyone else on notice that he has arrived.

Rhodes finished his first start with two passing TDs and two rushing TDs to help seal the deal as a star on the rise.

Disaster struck on the Tigers' very next drive as Blue Devils' Carson Hensley got in position to snatch the ball away for an interception in which he returned almost 20 yards for a TD -- leading 41-0 -- as icing on the cake for his squad.

Toward the end of the third quarter, Foard finally achieved the unthinkable on a night like Friday to obtain a TD of its own. Who would be the culprit to get the Tigers on the board? None other than Siemer as he scratched and clawed his way to a 5-yard rushing TD. With the idea to go for two, Siemer would earn the two-point conversion with Maiden still way out in front, 41-8.

Within the first few minutes of the fourth quarter, Maiden led Foard, 48-8, after Rhodes demonstrated his ability to run the football and drove it in for a 10-yard TD. Then, Foard would retaliate with a three-yard TD run by Case Parker -- its second of three TDs on the night -- to cut the stronghold by the Blue Devils, 48-16, while also earning a 2-point conversion by Mo McAfee with over five minutes remaining in the game.

The Tigers' last line of hope came a little too late as running back, Tyler Kirby charged in for the final score,of the night, as well as a two-point conversion, but still would fall to Maiden, 48-24.

The Tigers will challenge the Bandys Trojans (1-0) in next Friday’s encounter while the Blue Devils will head home for an opener against South Caldwell next Friday at a 7:30 p.m. start.

Note: Updated on Saturday, August 24; additionally, a game recap of the Newton-Conover/Bunker Hill contest will be added to Tuesday's edition of the O-N-E.

Area prep football scores (Week 1, August 23):

Hickory vs Statesville (ppd. to Monday, August 26 due to weather)

Alexander Central 28, Hibriten 19

Newton-Conover 44, Bunker Hill 14

Bandys 36, St. Stephens 15