Cary's Donte Johnson (bottom) is able strip the ball from Apex quarterback Adam Nelson (12) while making the tackle. GREG MINTEL - newsobserver.com
By TOM SHANAHAN
CARY – The latest edition of the nearly century-old rivalry between Apex and Cary started bitterly and ended sweetly for Deandre Henry.
The Cary junior running back sat out most of the first quarter as a disciplinary measure, but three-plus quarters was enough for him to carry 18 times for 281 yards and two touchdowns to lead the No. 7-ranked Imps to a 35-21 win over Apex Friday night at Cooper Field.
"No more discipline for me, no sir,” Henry said after the game. “I had my head down last week after the Fuquay game and showed poor sportsmanship. I wanted to be a leader this week.”
Cary improved to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the Tri-Nine 4A Conference, while Apex dropped to 1-4 and 0-2.
This edition of the intense rivalry had the added recognition of being one of 65 nationally recognized by the Great American Rivalry series that was sponsored by the United States Air Force and iHigh.com. Henry was named the MVP of the game and honored in a post-game ceremony by members of the Air Force.
Henry, an elusive 5-foot-9, 160-pounder, scored on runs of 47 yards at the end of the second quarter for a 14-14 halftime tie and 61 yards at the end of the fourth quarter to break open the back-and-forth game.
Apex quarterback Adam Nelson was money on the night for the Cougars. He was awarded a $500 scholarship from the Air Force in a pre-game ceremony as Apex's top student-athlete with 4.5 grade-point average. Then he went out and 20-of-30 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns.
The first TD toss was a 12-yarder to running back Shawn Knox, who returned from missing last week's game with an injury. Nelson sidestepped a blitz from the left and dumped the ball off to Knox on a screen for a 12-yard catch-and-run and 7-0 lead with 1:32 left in the first quarter.
Knox set up Apex's second touchdown with an 18-yard screen. On third-and-7, Nelson found Gavin Locklear behind the defense, waiting for the ball in the end zone, for a 21-yard touchdown and 14-7 lead with 2:24 left in the first half.
That should have been enough for the lead at halftime, but on third-and-10. But Henry got through a hole, cut back to his right, picked up some blocks and had a clear path to the end zone. The 47-yard touchdown run came with 7 second left in the half.
R.J. Banks gave Cary a 21-14 lead early in the third quarter on a 1-yard run, but Apex tied the game on a 5-yard run by Quincy Mangum.
Cary took a 28-21 lead on the first play of the fourth quarer on a 16-yard run by sophomore running back Marquise Sherrod-Cooper. He replaced Henry early in the game and finished the night with 13 carries for 60 yards.