If this is normal for Caiden Norman and the Cleveland offense, say hello to a new Triangle-area high school football offensive star.
Cleveland downed rival Clayton 44-20 Friday night with Norman, a junior quarterback, making a successful flip back to his natural position of quarterback after spending a year playing receiver.
The Rams never trailed the Comets and outscored Clayton 37-13 after the first quarter.
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The second touchdown connection of the night between Norman and senior receiver Patrick Jesequel, an 18-yard throw, was the first play of the fourth quarter. It capped a drive that started after Cleveland’s Noah Barnes recovered a Clayton fumble at the Cleveland 37-yard-line.
Jesequel’s score pushed the lead back to more than two touchdowns.
They said it
“Our defense played great swarming, team defense tonight,” said Cleveland coach Scott Riley. “I had the feeling we were in for a good night when they got the ball to their best player (Blake Joyner) in space and we held him to an 8-yard gain.”
3 who mattered
Norman: He threw for three TDs and ran for a game-high 154 yards on 18 carries as well.
“We just clicked,” Norman said. “The O-line did their job. The backs and receivers did what they were supposed to do. Everybody just clicked.”
Jesequel: The 5-foot-5 receiver caught four balls for 91 yards, twice getting behind the Comet defense on fly patters from his slot position.
Corey Brown, Cleveland: The senior back, coming off a 1,000-yard rushing season, was steady for the Rams. He carried the ball 25 times (83 yards, TD) and piled up 85 yards receiving as well.
By the numbers
416: Norman’s yards from scrimmage on the night. In addition to the 154 on the ground he was 11 of 18 for 262 yards through the air.
20: Cleveland points that followed Clayton turnovers. The last one stalled a Comet drive that was on the verge of cutting the lead back down to two scores early in the fourth quarter. That’s when the Rams’ Delancey Starkes tipped a pass to himself to make the interception.
5: Touches for Clayton standout receiver/runner Blake Joyner. The senior standout made a great leaping catch and run for a 32-yard TD that cut the Ram lead to 24-14 with 6:51 to play in the third quarter.
3: Number of days next week the Rams have to get ready for Garner, who visits Cleveland on Thursday night next week.
Commemorating the night
Clayton High School christened its football stadium as Nixon-Fowler Stadium before the game, honoring two coaches who led the Comet program for an amazing 53 years. The coin used before the game was struck for the occasion, featuring photos of the two coaches on either side.
Cleveland called heads (the Nixon side), won the toss and deferred.