KANNAPOLIS - The Bell was technically up for grabs in the annual “Battle for the Bell” football rivalry, but it didn’t take long to realize it was staying at A.L. Brown High School after the Wonders dominated Concord, 59-21, at Kannapolis Memorial Stadium Friday night.
The game was featured as part of the Great American Rivalry Series, a nationwide organization honoring the best high school football rivalries in America. It’s the fifth straight win for the Wonders against Concord, and now the series is deadlocked at 43-43-4.
“We just came out on fire, really, in all aspects of the game -- defense, offense, special teams. They all played great,” said Wonders coach Mike Newsome.
The Wonders got off to a quick start, scoring on their first two possessions. After Jahkiry Bennett rushed seven straight times for 61 yards, quarterback Cameron Kromah hit Isaiah Black on a 9-yard touchdown pass. Then, Todd Kennedy Jr. ran for a 2-yard score to make it 14-0.
In the second quarter, the scoreboard really blew up. The Wonders scored 24 points to make it 38-0. Ty Woods nailed a 27-yard field goal, and then the Wonders recovered a fumble. Bennett scored on a 24-yard touchdown run.
After a turnover on downs, the Wonders faced a fourth-and-8 near the red zone. Kromah pump-faked and then hit Black on a 23-yard touchdown pass. The following drive, Kromah found Jose Vargas for a 47-yard touchdown pass. At that point, the score was 38-0.
“(I was) just seeing open shots that I can take,” said Kromah, who finished with four touchdowns and 216 passing yards.. “Taking those shots in practice helped me in this game, so I was just taking what’s there.”
Concord finally woke up with 46 seconds left in the half. Nijel Robinson returned the kickoff, breaking multiple tackles, 70 yards for a touchdown. The Spiders then recovered an onside kick and had a 43-yard play that was unfortunately erased on a penalty. The score was 38-7 at half.
The Spiders started the second half with two huge plays: a fourth and 22 fake punt conversion and then a 51-yard touchdown pass from Deonte Brown to Robinson. After that, A.L. Brown’s defense took over again.
“We got some exciting players on defense,” Newsome said. “They can make great plays all over the field. They’ve been able to keep us in games all year long, and they can make plays at any time.”
Concord 1-10 overall, 1-4 South Piedmont 3A Conference; A.L. Brown 7-3, 3-2
THE PLAY OF THE GAME
After allowing 14 unanswered points and the second onside kick of the game, Concord was gaining momentum and closing the deficit. A.L. Brown cornerback Josiah Cauthen shut down any hope for a comeback.
On fourth-and-2 near the red zone, Concord running back Travion Wilson took a handoff to the left side. He tried to break some tackles, but the ball popped out of his grip. Cauthen picked it up, broke a tackle and ran 73 yards for the score.
“We forced a fumble, and I saw the ball went through some people,” Cauthen said. “I picked it up, and I saw green grass. I made sure I didn’t get caught.”
-- Robinson did it all for Concord. He returned a kickoff for a touchdown and caught three passes for 64 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown reception.
-- Jacori James rushed for 45 yards on 10 carries and caught one pass for 15 yards.
-- Punter Isaiah Clark converted a fourth-and-22 fake punt near his own 20-yard line, running for 23 yards. He also had a punt that went more than 50 yards and had two onside kicks recovered.
-- Jakhiry Bennett won the Great American Rivalry Series MVP, rushing for 145 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
-- Black scored three touchdowns on five receptions and had 130 yards
-- Cauthen had an interception and a 73-yard fumble recovery touchdown
-- If it weren’t for a penalty, the Wonders would have scored a touchdown on special teams, too. A penalty also erased a third defensive touchdown. Four possible non-offensive touchdowns shows how well they were clicking on all cylinders.
-- Concord’s special teams did extremely well. They returned a kickoff for a touchdown, recovered two onside kicks and converted a fourth-and-22 fake punt. All in all, the special teams gave life to Concord.
-- As part of the Great American Rivalry Series, there’s a pull-up competition between students of each school. A.L. Brown won that as well, knocking out 1,497 pull-ups to Concord’s 1,145.
WHAT’S UP NEXT?
Concord’s season is likely complete, while the Wonders wait to learn their playoff fate on Saturday.
Concord 0 7 7 7 — 21
AL Brown 14 24 7 14 — 59
ALB -Isaiah Black 9 pass from Cameron Kromah (Ty Woods kick)
ALB - Todd Kennedy Jr 2 run (Woods kick)
ALB - Woods 27 field goal
ALB - Jakhiry Bennett 24 run (Woods kick)
ALB - Black 23 pass from Kromah (Woods kick)
ALB - Jose Vargas 47 pass from. Kromah (Woods kick)
C - Nijel Robinson 70 kickoff return (Isaiah Clark kick)
C - Robinson 51 pass from Deonte Brown (Clark kick)
ALB - Josiah Cauthen 73 fumble recovery (Woods kick)
ALB - Black 53 pass from Kromah (Woods kick)
ALB - Xavier Jordan 35 fumble recovery (Justin Giraldo kick)
C - Travion Wilson 18 run (Clark kick)