Feisty Spartans fall short
Sat. October 06, 2012 at 2:28 a.m. | By Bruce Wehrle
Salisbury’s Justin Ruffin is tackled by Central Davidson’s Dalton Fletcher (17), Josh Moore (30) and other Spartans during their game Friday night. (Photo by Michael Coppley/The Dispatch)
In a game where the lead keeps going back and forth, you better make sure you keep coming back when the other guy keeps going forth.
Central Davidson’s football team learned that the hard way when it dropped a hard-fought 45-35 Central Carolina Conference decision to Salisbury Friday night for homecoming at Spartan Community Stadium.
Salisbury had just taken a 31-25 lead to start the fourth period when the Spartans looked like they were ready to answer with a score of their own.
However, Salisbury’s defense stepped up big at its own 32 when it stopped Saig Skeen, Central’s bruising bulldog running back, on a fourth-and-one effort.
The Hornets then responded with a 68-yard drive in four plays, capped by Justin Ruffin’s 2-yard run for his fourth TD of the game.
Salisbury then came up big again when linebacker Keion Adams intercepted quarterback Nathan Dennis’s pass in the flat and had a wide-open lane to the end zone for a 35-yard return and a 45-27 lead with just 4:39 left to play.
“We were disappointed we lost tonight,” said Central coach Brad Morton, whose team dropped a 42-21 contest to Thomasville on a game played Monday night because of a weather postponement last Friday.
“We felt Monday night was just one of those nights that happens sometimes,” said Morton. “We felt like we had to come back and redeem ourselves. We thought we put ourselves in a place to win, but they (Salisbury) made the plays when they had to.”
Indeed, Central held a 20-17 lead at the half, thanks to three touchdowns from Skeen. He scored on runs of 2 and 65 yards, then hauled in a 41-yard pass from Dennis with just 18 seconds left in the second period to put the Spartans ahead. Central, in fact, scored the last two TDs of the half within 57 seconds of each other.
Salisbury took the opening drive of the third period and marched 52 yards, with Ruffin breaking tackles on a 20-yard TD run and a 25-20 lead.
But Central came right back on its next possession, going 68 yards in 15 plays in a masterful drive — with Skeen scoring on a 1-yard run — that put the Spartans back on top at 27-25.
Then it was Salisbury’s turn on its next possession, this time with Max Allen rolling in on a 1-yard run for a 31-27 edge.
If Central had followed the script, it should have scored on its next possession, but this time, Salisbury held the line.
“They (Salisbury) made the plays they needed to make to win the ballgame,” said Morton. “Especially on offense. But we didn’t stop them and that was probably the key.”
Central made it exciting down the stretch. The Spartans scored on a 24-yard TD pass to Skeen with just under three minutes left to play to make it 45-35, and then recovered the onside kick at the Salisbury 25.
But Dennis suffered his second interception of the game to squash the bid to get closer.
Notes: Skeen ended up with 182 yards rushing on 29 attempts, with another 64 yards in two TD pass receptions. He scored all five of Central’s touchdowns … Ruffin had a big night, too, rushing for 159 yards with three rushing touchdowns … The flag was raised at half staff in honor of South Davidson coach Mike Crowell, who suddenly passed away Sunday at the age of 52. He was recognized as “a friend to Central Davidson” … Paige Chavis was named Central’s homecoming queen … Salisbury improved to 2-0 in the CCC, 5-2 overall, and will entertain Lexington in a key CCC contest Friday … Central dipped to 0-2 in the league, 3-5 overall, and will visit East Davidson on Friday.