Pryor, Bulldogs’ defense rock Red Devils, 49-12

Red Devils’ strong safety, Christian Burgins (7) set to secure his interception of Burns quarterback, Cam’Ron Sweezy (17) after the pass break-up by Red Devils’ sophomore, Xavion Coulter (25) at Gurley Stadium on Friday, September 20. (O-N-E Photo by Brian Hendrix)
Marcus Smith
Sports Editor

The Newton-Conover Red Devils Varsity football team had an extremely tough go of things against the visiting Burns Bulldogs at Gurley Stadium on Friday night.

The Red Devils and Bulldogs both entered the interconference clash at 2-1, but only one could prevail and Burns did so mightily, 49-12.

"You know, that's a really good football team," said Red Devils' head coach and former Burns' head coach, Steven Pack. "We've been battling some injuries, battling some sickness but that's not an excuse. I've got to do a better job of getting us ready to play...We've got to figure out a way to be able to run the ball through the tackles a little bit better. We've been struggling a little bit...I think that's one of the best defensive fronts we'll see right there."

The Red Devils (2-2) weren’t able to get anything to go for the most part offensively against the Bulldogs -- who are currently ranked No. 6 defensively in North Carolina -- and were down 22-0 going into halftime.

Offensively, the agility and burst by Bulldogs’ running back, Kujuan Pryor proved to be more than the Red Devils could handle.

Pryor finished with an outstanding 243 yards on 14 carries with three rushing touchdowns --two coming on a 60-yarder and 58-yarder in the third quarter.

Nevertheless, the Red Devils had some good moments in the contest coming from junior Brandon Johnson and Christian Burgins.

The momentum momentarily went in the favor of the Red Devils as Johnson was able to pick off a pass by Bulldogs’ quarterback, Cam’Ron Sweezy in the second quarter with 6:55 left in the first half.

Burgins picked off Sweezy, as well, in the third quarter.

The momentum build tapered off though as the Red Devils couldn’t capitalize.

However, coming out of the break, the home team did look a bit rejuvenated as a drive led by quarterback Justice Craig saw a 13-yard pass connect to sophomore Zane Redmond in the team’s first of two TDs on the night. The next TD in the third quarter came on a 7-yard run by running back Allen Wilfong, but nothing else would go for the backfield in this contest.

Wilfong finished with 14 yards on eight carries -- which included a fumble that was recovered by Burns in the third quarter with 6:50 left. Craig couldn't set up a lot of connections in the passing game either as he finished 11-for-26 for 164 yards with one passing TD and one interception (coming in the third quarter on 4th and 10 with 5:23 left).

Some of the ones he did connect on, however, went for big yards including a 43-yarder (coming in the first quarter) and a 28-yarder (coming in the third quarter) to Johnson. Johnson garnered 77 yards on four receptions.

Additionally, Craig threw a 32-yard deep ball to wide-out, Josh Nichols in the third quarter. Nichols, the 5'10" 180-pound senior, collected 44 yards on four grabs. Redmond, the sole receiver to score a TD, obtained 22 yards on two catches. While, Keegan Covington also got into the fold with an 11-yard reception in the third quarter.

"We got a lot of work to do, but our kids came back out after halftime. We were down 22-0, I believe, and they came back out and they answered. We cut it to 22-12," said Pack. "We don't have much quit in us. I told them that team last year probably would have laid down, but this year's team fought back and tried to get back in it. You know, I'm happy with the effort, but we've got a lot of growing to do and we got to get better."

Newton-Conover will remain at home for a South Fork 2A conference battle with the Lincolnton Wolves on Friday, September 27. Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m.

*Story updated on Sunday, September 22*

Area scores:

St. Stephens 26, Foard 21
Ronald Reagan 46, Hickory 21