Undefeated Knights rout West Forsyth

CLEMMONS |  Despite coming into Friday’s game at West Forsyth undefeated, North Davidson was flying somewhat under the radar in terms of statewide recognition.

Probably not anymore.

A pair of backbreaking interceptions by Mason Hicks in the first quarter paved the way to a 37-7 rout as the Knights maintained their hold on first place in the Central Piedmont Conference.

Devonte Moore and Conlee Hunter each ran for a pair of touchdowns for the Knights, who had 219 yards rushing.

North, 9-0 overall and 3-0 in the conference, just cracked the Associated Press 4-A top 10 pull and is likely to improve on its No. 8 ranking after such a dominating performance.

“I think our kids believed in themselves tonight when we came out,” said North coach Mark Holcomb. “We had two huge picks early in the game. Mason Hicks made two great plays. That’s the best defensive preparation we’ve had without a doubt. Our defense had a great week of practice. I hate that we short-fielded them down there. They deserved a shutout.”

Hicks returned his interceptions for a combined 72 yards to set up two first-quarter touchdowns and gave North momentum it kept the entire game.

“I just ran out there, saw the ball and took it,” Hicks said.

It was 30-0 by halftime. And it was over.

“This is just a huge win for our community, a huge win for our program,” Holcomb said. “We’ll see what happens with everyone else.”

With the way the Knights are playing right now, it may not matter. North’s defense, led by linemen Shy Tuttle and Andrew Mayton and linebacker Hunter Hoots, limited West Forsyth (4-4 overall, 1-2 CPC) to 178 yards and had 15 tackles for loss.

“We just read our keys, like we do in practice,” Shy Tuttle said.

North couldn’t have started out in better shape when Tevin Tuttle took the Titans’ pooch kickoff and returned it 18 yards to the North 48. A facemask penalty was tacked on, putting the ball at the West Forsyth 37.

But on North’s second play, the Titans’ Luke Hedrick jumped a slant route and intercepted quarterback Chase Mitchell’s pass.

Redemption — and then some — would could soon enough for the Knights.

West Forsyth put together a nice drive into North territory but Hicks read West Forsyth quarterback Andy Weeks perfectly, intercepted his pass and returned it 45 yards to the Titan 23.

“When he does that roll out pass, he keeps his head back and I anticipated it,” Hicks said.

Four plays later, Moore scored on a 12-yard run as North grabbed a 7-0 lead with 5:06 left in the first quarter.

It wasn’t long before the Titans were throwing the ball to Hicks again.

On the third play of the drive after the kickoff, Hicks corralled his second interception of the first quarter and returned it 27 yards to the West Forsyth 13. That set up Hunter’s 2-yard touchdown plunge and a 14-0 lead with 3:20 left in the quarter.

The Knights continued to pull away in the second quarter when Tevin Tuttle raced 48 yards for a touchdown on a third-and-10 quarterback draw with 7:48 left in the second quarter.

Then it was time for North’s special teams to get in on the fun.

Mitchell boomed a 50-yard punt which the Titans chose to field and had to start at their 1. Devaris Byrd tackled backup quarterback Trae Bailey in the end zone for a safety and a 23-0 lead with two minutes left.

Kyhlil Miller returned the ensuing free kick 20 yards to the West Forsyth 44. Mitchell connected with Moore on a 38-yard screen pass to the 6. Moore took it in on the next play as North’s lead grew to 30-0 with 1:32 remaining in the half.

The Titans finally had something positive happen when Dominic Rowdy recovered a Moore fumble at the North 27. It took nine plays but the Titans finally got in the end zone on a 1-yard run by Kealand Dirks, cutting North’s lead to 30-7 with 2:33 left in the third quarter.

North, playing conservatively in the second half, drove 65 yards in seven plays for a fourth-quarter touchdown, with Hunter taking it in from three right after Mitchell darted 31 yards on a read-option keeper.

“We just wanted to run the clock, not get anybody ejected and get the heck out of Clemmons with a win,” Holcomb said.

Make that nine wins and no losses for what is shaping up as a special season.

“It’s wonderful,” Holcomb said. “We’ll get back to work on Monday and try to get to 10-0.”

North hosts R.J. Reynolds next Friday.

Notes: Spencer Landfried was 5-for-5 on extra points … Mitchell was 4-for-11 for 42 yards and an interception … Dirks had 66 yards on 28 carries.

Mike Duprez can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 218 or mike.duprez@the-dispatch.com.