MOORESVILLE -- For the second time in as many games Statesville owned the third quarter, and the dominant period once again paved the way to victory.
The Greyhounds outscored Lake Norman 20-0 in the third Friday, breaking a 14-all tie on their way to a 34-21 win.
See all the photos at the bottom of this article
Statesville outscored Hickory 26-0 in the third to blow Monday's season opener wide open en route to a 40-12 triumph.
"The first half we've been kind of feeling it out," Statesville coach Randall Gusler said.
"Tonight coach (Greg) Stewart did an awesome job getting the defense ready for the second half. Offensively, we looked at a couple of things and said 'OK, we've got to do this and this.'"
The Greyhounds pulled ahead 21-14 when they scored on the opening drive of the second half. Nebanye Moore's 18-yard pass to Ky'Wuan Dukes on third down and long gave them a first down at the Lake Norman 6. Two plays later Chavion Smith punched the ball in the end zone from the 2 for his first of three rushing touchdowns.
The ensuing kickoff ricocheted off the body of Lake Norman return man Tre Perkins. He appeared to lose sight of the ball as it bounced behind him. Statesville recovered the muffed kickoff at the Lake Norman 3. Smith made the Wildcats pay for the miscue. His 3-yard rushing TD extended the lead to 27-14.
In a span of less than 30 seconds, the Greyhounds turned a tie game into a two-score advantage.
Players of the game
Statesville's Jasaiah Gathings and Jason Shuford were named the N.C. Farm Bureau Insurance Offensive and Defensive Players of the Game.
Gathings made a difficult 28-yard touchdown catch in traffic for the game's first score with 8:44 left in the first quarter. His second touchdown catch, an 8-yard slant route, propelled the Greyhounds to a 14-7 lead midway through the second quarter. The junior finished with four catches for 59 yards.
Shuford, a 6-foot-3, 295-pound defensive lineman, had four sacks and another tackle for a loss.
"We were joking with him Thursday," Gusler said. "He talked about his five tackles, 1 1/2 sacks and two forced fumbles (Monday) against Hickory. We told him you've got to double that. He played well."
The Wildcats knotted the game at 7 with 9:54 left in the second quarter when Anthony Limon connected with Christian Taylor for a 22-yard TD pass.
They tied it at 14 with 2 seconds left in the half on Limon's 1-yard TD run, which capped a 7-minute drive.
Lake Norman's ground game dictated possession time in the opening two quarters. The Wildcats ran 39 plays compared to Statesville's 15. Still, it was a tie ballgame at the intermission.
By the numbers
Statesville went for the deep ball on its first offensive play of the game, and Dukes hauled in Moore's pass for a 48-yard gain. He had two catches for 66 yards.
Smith rushed for touchdowns covering 1, 3 and 2 yards. He finished with 93 yards on 16 carries. Moore was 6 of 12 passing for 125 yards and two TDs.
Taylor had three receptions for 67 yards and a TD for the Wildcats. Kris Petroski made a 16-yard TD catch in the fourth quarter. Will Gordon led nine rushers with 66 yards on 10 carries.
The Wildcats (1-1) hit the road for the first time this season. They play at South Iredell on Sept. 6.
The Greyhounds (2-0) wrap up a three-game road trip to begin the season. They travel to Taylorsville to take on Alexander Central which, like Lake Norman, utilizes the triple option on offense.
"This was a very good game to play before AC," Gusler said.
S--Jasaiah Gathings 28 pass from Nebanye Moore (Sam Buckner kick), 8:44.
LN--Christian Taylor 22 pass from Anthony Limon (Nick McCue kick), 9:54.
S--Gathings 8 pass from Moore (Buckner kick), 7:07.
LN--Limon 1 run (McCue kick), :02.
S--Chavion Smith 2 run (Buckner kick), 8:21.
S--Smith 3 run (kick blocked), 8:05.
S--Smith 1 run (Buckner kick), 1:54.
LN--Kris Petroski 16 pass from Limon (McCue kick), 1:45.