August high school football equals humidity, weather delays and excitement in North Carolina. At Cleveland High School, it also usually equals lots of points. It did again as the 2016 season opened Friday night.
The Rams downed Clayton 56-41 in a weather-shortened contest that featured plenty of big plays both offensively and from the Cleveland defense.
Cleveland was driving again midway of the fourth quarter when lightning started in the area. After the lightning continued and pouring rain drenched the field, the two teams agreed to call the contest.
It was the first game for the Comets under the direction of head coach Hunter Jenks.
Clayton led 21-20 and was driving for another score late in the first quarter.
And suddenly, Cleveland senior cornerback Tywuan Thorne flipped the field and the momentum of the game His interception of a pass intended for Clayton receiver Devin Carter just short of the goal line. A 61-yard return by Thorne was wiped out by an illegal block, but the Ram offense had no trouble covering the final distance for the go-ahead TD.
The Rams never trailed again.
THREE TO WATCH
Caiden Norman, Cleveland: The senior quarterback threw for a career-high 423 yards on 30-of-37 attempts for six touchdowns. Aside from a pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage he was perfect in the second half (13-of-14).
Jake Mason, Cleveland: There were plenty of contributors in the Cleveland receiving corps and standout senior Jacob Scott (nine catches for 106 yards, two TDs), but it was Mason who upcoming Ram opponents will now have to watch. He caught seven passes for 132 yards and a pair of TDs as well.
Devin Carter, Clayton: The 6-foot-4 junior receiver did his best Randy Moss impression in the season opener. Carter caught five balls covering 179 yards for three touchdowns. His ability to run by and outleap, tower over Cleveland defensive backs gave the Comets a score at any time threat.
BY THE NUMBERS
158.3: Caiden Norman’s passer rating for the evening on the NFL scale, a perfect rating.
3: Strings of seven consecutive passes completed or more compiled by Norman on the night.
21: Points off of turnovers in the second quarter alone scored by Cleveland. The Rams turned two interceptions and a fumble recovery into a big momentum shift.
363: Yards passing for Clayton quarterback Landen Leiser. He was nearly the match of Norman but that pair of big plays by Cleveland’s Thorne and Kaleb Scott (who had the other pick) made a big difference for the home team.
34: Combined points scored in the first 10 minutes and 27 seconds of play.
786: Total passing yards combined on the night from the two quarterbacks.
4: Players with 100 or more receiving yards on the night.
0: Players with more than 70 yards rushing on the night.