Blue Devils best rival Bandys, 30-23

Blue Devils’ quarterback, Ethan Rhodes (12) attempts to launch a pass under heavy traffic by the Trojans on Friday, September 27 at Thomas E. Brown Stadium. (Photo by Michelle Thompson)Trojans' Quenten Maddox (11) getting by Maiden's Dylan Abernethy (6) in the rivalry match-up on Friday, September 27. Maddox scored the team's first TD. (Photo by Michelle Thompson)
Marcus Smith
Sports Editor

To say it was an electric atmosphere in Thomas E. Brown Stadium on Friday night would be an understatement.

As to be expected, it was a grind-it-out, back-and-forth affair in the 67th contest between the Bandys Trojans’ varsity football team and host-Maiden Blue Devils.

Things got jumping early for the Blue Devils (4-1, 1-0) in the South Fork 2A conference opener as it claimed victory, 30-23, when the dust was settled. This was the 50th win in the series for Maiden, after having lost last year's match-up with its rival.

"They're a good football team. We knew it was going to be tough," said Blue Devils' head coach, Will Byrne. "Their last week result (against Bunker Hill) is not an indication of their football team...You know a rivalry game, anything is going to happen and they've got a very good football team. We were fortunate enough to get out to an early lead and we sustained it."

Maiden earned its way on the board first on a 28-yard touchdown run by junior, Amarion Craig with 8:55 left in the first quarter. The Blue Devils decided to go for two, and converted nicely on a connection to Brennan James from sophomore quarterback, Ethan Rhodes, leading 8-0.

Craig finished with nearly 100 yards (standing at 95 yards) on 18 carries while James collected four receptions for 80 yards and one TD.

In the Trojans’ opening possession of the quarter, it went three-and-out after a quick four-play drive.

Maiden then took over at its own 43-yard line with 6:39 left in the first quarter. The Blue Devils would march down the field and score once more -- this time on a 32-yard connection from Rhodes to James on 3rd and 19.

The two-point conversion run by Rhodes was good, and it led 16-0 with 2:26 in the quarter.

Bandys had one more possession in the quarter, but it ended on a sour note.

In the second quarter, both teams scored twice.

The Trojans finally got on the board on a 7-yard run by Hunter Jones. A two-point conversion run by Isaiah Gilchrist put it within reach, 16-8, with 11:54 in the first half.

However, Maiden senior, Dylan Abernethy was on a tear as he collected not one, but two receiving TDs in the frame.

The first one came on, perhaps the biggest pass of the game by Rhodes, a 53-yard dagger. The second of which came with 12.6 seconds left in the first half on a 10-yard pass by Rhodes, leading 30-16 heading into the break. Just prior to Maiden's final score of the half, Bandys scored once more on a huge 43-yard run by running back, Quenten Maddox (who didn't return to the game due to injury in the third quarter on a punt return).

Abernethy collected 77 yards and two TDs on three receptions. Abernethy got in on the ground with 18 on three carries (all coming in the fourth quarter). Rhodes finished 8-for-13 for 184 passing yards and three TD passes. Rhodes also mixed up with a few runs (earning 15 yards) and even a few punts in the contest. One of his daggers was to Carson Hensley on a 21-yard connection to end the third quarter.

On the other side, besides Maddox, Gilchrist led the Trojans in the backfield as he brought his team within striking distance in the fourth quarter -- scoring the only TD for either team in the second half on a 1-yard carry in the last 3:30 of the contest. Gilchrist earned 62 yards on 19 carries.

"We did enough in the second half to get enough first downs to keep their offense off the field, and we played good enough defense in the second half as we (only) gave up that one score," said Byrne. "In that last drive with three timeouts, for us to get just enough first downs to where we could take a knee was just a testament to our kids. I'm so proud of them. They played so hard. They love each other and they care about each other. We're 1-0 in the league."

Next up for the Blue Devils is a road match-up with another South Fork 2A conference opponent, West Lincoln, on Friday, October 4. The Trojans (3-2, 0-1) will do battle with Newton-Conover on Randy Lowman Field also on October 4 at 7:30 p.m.

Area scores (Week 6, September 27):

Newton-Conover 34, Lincolnton 12
Fred T. Foard 26, Patton 14
Freedom 48, St. Stephens 12
Hickory 20, McDowell 14
Hibriten 28, Bunker Hill 6