WELCOME — Ledford had both sides of the football clicking first half in opening up a two-score lead at the break. The second half told a much different story.
Host North Davidson made the necessary adjustments, turning to a hurry-up offense that completely shifted momentum. The Black Knights erupted for 29 second-half points to surge by the Panthers for a 35-24 victory Friday night at Palmer Field.
LHS (2-1) had come into the night undefeated, but suffered its first loss of the 2021 season and slipped to 1-1 in the Central Carolina Conference.
“It was a tale of two halves,” said Chris Adams, head coach of the Panthers. “First half we played about as well as we could play. Second half, they came out and ran the football and made plays when they needed to. We made too many mistakes, whether it be a turnover or penalty. There were some big plays and calls that did not go our way. We just came out on the short end tonight.”
Early in the second quarter, the Panthers were on the prowl with a 14-point cushion in hand.
Quarterback Nathan Carr put the first points on the scoreboard on a nifty 49-yard TD run. The sophomore went up the middle, found some daylight to the outside, and took off up the near sideline for the score in the final seconds of the first quarter.
Moments later after the defense had forced an NDHS punt, Ledford was adding onto the lead.
In four plays, LHS had moved from its own 20, all the way inside the 35 of North. On third down, Carr went up top to Owen Finley, who rose above a defender for the snatch as he fell into the end zone. The Panthers were up 14-0 with 9:35 left in the half.
North (2-1, 2-0 CCC) would hit a big play that went for 79 yards and a score to make it 14-6, but a Bryson Sims 19-yard field goal in the final seconds sent Ledford into intermission up 11.
Ledford received the second-half kickoff and hoped to keep the momentum rolling. Instead, the North defense forced a three-and-out, which was the beginning of a long second half for the guests.
With a faster tempo on offense, the Knights began to make up the ground.
Jaylin Walser plowed in from four yards out, and the two-point run by quarterback Tedric Jenkins had NDHS down only three.
The Knights held on defense again, and Jenkins rewarded them with a great individual effort on the ensuing drive. On third down from the LHS 10, Jenkins found heavy pressure in the pocket. He managed to avoid the sack, escaping harm to find Reid Nisley in the front corner of the end zone for the score. North had its first lead of the night at 21-17 and never gave it back.
Jenkins would tack on a 9-yard TD run early fourth quarter, and connected with Ja’Mir McNeair three minutes later for another score to extend the North lead to 35-17.
Carr did find Finley again in the final minutes on a 6-yard pitch and catch to draw within 11, but it was not enough as the offense for the Panthers could not duplicate the success they had first half.
“We needed to sustain some drives,” Adams said. “We needed to keep their offense off the field. We were there at times defensively, but we just didn’t make plays. I do think we wore down in the second half, but we are to blame for that for not keeping their offense off the field. We kept putting our defense in a tough spot. North made the adjustments second half and hats off to them.”
Carr led the Panthers with 158 rushing yards.
Ledford will host Thomasville this Friday.