By KEITH CRAMER
RALEIGH – Cardinal Gibbons continued its climb to a conference title with a convincing 41-14 win over visiting Orange Friday night.
“We wanted to climb a ladder and each week is another step,” first year coach Henry Trevathan said.
The Crusaders (8-2, 4-0) pulled away from a 22-14 third quarter lead, scoring 20 unanswered points to set up a showdown with Oxford Webb next week for the Carolina 3A conference title.
Defensively the Crusaders kept the Panthers bottled up, allowing only 45 yards rushing and forcing four turnovers and a safety.
Orange (1-9, 0-4) has been a victim of several close defeats during the season, including its last three by seven points or less. The Panthers were down 15-0 late in the first half before Shae Breeze intercepted Matthew Koch and returned it to the Crusader 25. Sophomore QB Sean Motley found Jon Evans on the next play for the TD. The run failed and Orange trailed 15-6 at half.
Koch answered in the second half with a 41-yard score to James Hickey in his first game back from injury. Ryan McAnallen’s extra-point made it 22-6. The momentum was short lived when Orange found lightning-in-a-bottle with Jamaal Alston’s 96-yard kick return for a TD. Motley’s run made it 22-14 early in the third.
Afterward it was all Cardinal Gibbons on offense and defense.
Timothy Buckley had two fourth quarter TD runs, and McAnallen hit field goals from 37 and 35 yards to complete the scoring.
“It’s nice having him. That’s one thing that’s helped us all year,” Trevathan said of McAnallen.
Buckley finished with three rushing TDs and 161 yards on the ground. Koch added 187 in the air and two scores.