CARY — For the first time in this young season, Cary played a complete game in the eyes of coach Ben Kolstad.
If they can replicate their performance Friday at Cooper Field throughout the next several weeks, they might just open a few eyes and make a run at the Tri-9.
The Imps dominated rival Apex 45-7 in a game that featured two solid halves from Cary.
"Our kids played hard start to finish," Kolstad said. "We challenged them at halftime. Being up like that, we wanted to come out and play a complete game. For the first time this year, I thought we played a complete game."
Cary dominated both sides of the ball, but its defense stole the show.
In the first half, the Imps held Apex to 14 total yards, no first downs and intercepted two passes.
Cary linebacker Matt Rush's first-quarter pick kickstarted the rout. After the Imps first possession stalled inside the 10-yard line and they came away with no points, Rush stepped in front of Jordan Betts' pass and ran it 30 yards to the end zone.
Cary's defensive dominance gave their offense a short field to work off. Three of the Imps five first-half possessions started at their own 49 or better.
On the offensive side of the ball, Cary took a direct approach. In the first half, 16 of their 29 plays ran through tailback Marquise Sharrod-Ponds, who wracked up 84 yards, en route to 116 by night's end.
Quarterback Jordan Dawson ran another 68 yards and was an efficient 9-for-15 passing, for 89 and two touchdowns.
"That's what we're going to do," Kolstad said. "We want to run the ball, obviously. Tonight we were able to throw and catch, and that's going to make us dangerous, hopefully."
Safety Paul Taylor made an acrobatic interception over the middle early in the second quarter, sparking another Imps scoring drive. They rode Ponds' all they way to the end zone for a 21-0 lead. Ponds carried the ball on five straight plays, the last an 8-yard TD run.
Kicker Phillip Thomas connected on a 22-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to stake the Imps to a 24-0 lead.
Apex finally found some offense with the insertion of freshman quarterback Ian Boyd, who was under center for the Cougars junior varsity squad, two days earlier. On his first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, he ripped through Cary's defense for a 42-yard run, giving the Cougars their first first down of the night and putting them in Cary territory for the first time.
Boyd finished with 91 of Apex's 110 yards of offense.
Apex tailback Rondell Gainous gave the Cougars their lone TD of the night on a 5-yard run with 4:28 remaining. But Cary's Elijah Bryant put an exclamation point on the night for the Imps when he returned the ensuing kick 79 yards for a touchdown.