RALEIGH – Through two games this season Cary had outscored its opponents by a combined 87-32. Friday night was more of the same.
The Imps scored a defensive touchdown and got two more on special teams to pummel Sanderson on the road 31-0 and remain unbeaten.
“(Cary’s) a great football team,” Spartans coach Tony Lewis said. “They only scored twice on us with their offense, so I think our defense stepped up and played well. But special teams mistakes really hurt us.”
Senior Donte Johnson gave Cary an early 7-0 lead when he sidestepped a group of Sanderson (0-3) defenders near midfield and took a punt back 55 yards just two minutes and 53 seconds into the game.
“Making plays on special teams is huge,” Imps coach Ben Kolstad said. “We’ve got depth, so we’re able to get guys on special teams that don’t normally start on offense or defense and they’re able to focus on just that. We got great blocking on that first touchdown and Donte made a great run to score.”
Offensively Cary (3-0) struggled to find the end zone most of the night – partly due to being whistled for 17 penalties for 139 yards – but it did manage to sustain one drive that resulted in a touchdown.
Junior quarterback Connor Chase connected with junior tight end Jackson Gomez from 14 yards out as time expired in the first quarter to make it 14-0 Imps. Chase finished 12-for-19 for 146 yards.
“I thought we executed pretty well on offense,” Kolstad said. “We did a good job of taking what their defense was giving us. We just couldn’t get into a rhythm because of all the penalties. Offense just has a different feel to it when you can’t get into a rhythm, and we just couldn’t get comfortable.”
Cary’s defense made it 21-0 when senior linebacker Phillip Ochieng picked up a fumbled Spartans lateral and rumbled 23 yards for a touchdown a mere one minute and two seconds later.
Senior kicker William Gilfillan pushed the Imps’ lead to 24 with a 22-yard field goal as the buzzer sounded on the first half.
After a scoreless third quarter, Johnson returned his second punt for a touchdown this time from 53 yards away with 8:08 left in the game to put the finishing touches on the rout.
“Donte’s all over the field,” Kolstad said. “He’s just a good football player.”
Cary moves into conference play next week when it travels to face Fuquay-Varina, while Sanderson makes the trip to Panther Creek.