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STANHOPE — It wasn’t drawn up that way this week during practice but Southern Nash’s state 3-A football first-round playoff game against C.B. Aycock on Friday night turned into The “Bam” Show.
Firebirds senior Zonovan “Bam” Knight, who has verbally committed to North Carolina State University, ran for a season-high 353 yards and scored six of Southern Nash’s nine touchdowns in its 63-0 destruction of the Golden Falcons. Knight did it all on just 15 carries, which is a few more than he averages (11.3) but it was for a reason. Knight, who previously this season broke the Firebirds career rushing record, became Southern Nash’s single-season rushing leader, topping the previous mark of 1,925 yards set by Alan Atwater in 2002.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Knight, who now has 2,003 yards on the season. “To leave that mark as a senior is a great feeling!”
The Firebirds rolled to 517 yards of offense — all on the ground — and held the Falcons to just 149 as they surpassed the 60-point plateau for the sixth time this season.
“It just surprised me that we did what we did because I watched them on film and have been impressed by them,” Firebirds head coach Brian Foster said of the Falcons. “Against South Central, they played some good football. I think they had a good team; it just got away from them.”
Knight set the tone on Southern Nash’s first play from scrimmage when he went virtually untouched for a 42-yard touchdown. Carlos Garcia kicked the first of his nine extra points and the Falcons settled in for what was going to be a long night.
“Yeah, we don’t have anybody on our scout team or anybody on our team that runs as fast or as hard as that kid does,” CBA head coach Steve Brooks said. “It was very hard to simulate and they hit us in the mouth two big times right at the start and it was kind of hard to stop that train.”
Southern Nash (10-0), the No. 2 seed in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A East bracket, scored on all five of its first-quarter possessions. Junior quarterback Matt Foster’s 72-yard run set up a 17-yard TD run by classmate Quinton Cooley, the only carry on the night for the Firebirds’ other 1,000-yard rusher, that made it 14-0.
Daylon Whitley charged 23 yards for a TD before Knight darted 38 yards to make it 28-0 with less than a minute left in the quarter. But Aycock, which finished 5-7, lost a fumble, the first of three costly first-half turnovers, deep in Firebirds territory and Knight banged his way into the end zone from five yards.
He scored another TD from 11 yards out in the second quarter, setting off the running clock by mutual agreement.
The Firebirds defense, led by seniors Lamont Williams, Justin Quintavalle and Kedric Anderson, turned in a stellar performance in its first shutout of the season. Southern Nash limited CBA junior Taevian Jackson, who entered Friday’s contest with more than 1,500 rushing yards, to just 71 yards.
The Firebirds got a 100-yard fumble recovery and return from junior linebacker Cameron Thompson, who scooped up Jackson’s goal-line fumble two yards deep in the end zone and ran all the way to the CBA 2-yard line before getting pushed out of bounds.
Whitley bowled in from two yards and the 49-0 score stood at halftime.
Knight had a 52-yard run to set up a 13-yard TD that gave him the record in the third quarter. Unsure if the record had been broken, Brian Foster sent Knight back onto the field for one more possession. Knight responded with a 70-yard TD run that put him over the 2,000-yard mark.
Southern Nash will host Eastern Alamance, a 49-7 winner over South Johnston on Friday, in the second round next Friday, Nov. 23.