Last year, the Golden Lions had hopes of winning their fifth consecutive state championship. But their dreams ended last year in the fourth round at the hands of Hibriten, 19-7. They decided that one year was enough. They avenged that loss with a 28-21 victory at Hibriten last week and returned to the title game. The Golden Lions took care of business last night with a convincing 42-21 victory over North Davidson.
This was the Black Knights’ first ever appearance in the NCHSAA football championship and they wanted to make it count. After stopping Shelby on their first drive, North Davidson quarterback Landon Moore connected with Themus Fulks for a 62-yard pass that put the ball at the Golden Lion 16-yard line. However, Moore was intercepted a few plays later by Jack Hollifield. Hollifield took it 93 yards for a Golden Lion touchdown (PAT good). That seemed to set the tone for the rest of the game.
Shelby would go up 14-0 on their next drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Isaiah Bess to Diavonni Daley (PAT good). Those two would connect for another touchdown (22 yards). Caden Sheeley’s PAT kick would make it 21-0. The Black Knights would get on the board with a three-yard touchdown run by Colby Garfield (PAT good). The second quarter would turn into a turnover battle as each team had two turnovers apiece. Shelby did get deep into North Davidson territory before the half. But instead of kicking a field-goal, the Golden Lions would go for it but Bess was sacked by Blake Stephens to end the half. The halftime score would remain 21-7 at half-time.
Late in the third quarter, the Golden Lions would extend their lead. On fourth down on the 18-yard line, Isaiah Bess was under immense pressure but was able to find Fabian Pettis for the 18-yard touchdown pass (PAT good). The Black Knights would answer that with a score of their own early in the fourth quarter. On fourth-and-goal from the three-yard line. The ball was directly snapped to Jackson Perrell. Perrell took it in for the three-yard touchdown run (PAT good). That cut the lead to 28-14.
But every time the Black Knights cut it closer, the Golden Lions would shut the door. Donye Fuller would make it a three-score game again with a two-yard touchdown run (PAT good). After Shelby was forced to punt on their next drive, there was some controversy. The ball sailed over punter Kobe Farmer’s head and he appeared to recover it and down it but the ball was popped loose and Gage Williams returned it for a touchdown (PAT good). That would be as close as North Davidson would get. Shelby would ice it with a one-yard touchdown run by Jaylon Scott. Caden Sheeley was 6-for-6 on his extra point kicks.
Isaiah Bess led the Golden Lion offense with 185 yards passing and three touchdowns, but was intercepted twice. Diavonni Daley was his top receiver. He amassed 103 yards along with his two touchdowns. Donye Fuller amassed 86 yards and a touchdown. Landon Moore led the Black Knight offense with 229 passing yards and 41 rushing yards. He was also intercepted three times. His top receiver was Themus Fulks. He amassed 153 yards. On defense, Dorian Davis and Dashaun Christopher each had an interception along with that interception returned for a touchdown by Jack Hollifield. Nick Stites recovered a fumble and Malaki Hamrick recorded a sack. Themus Fulks had two interceptions for the North Davidson defense. Gage Williams had one. Blake Stephens registered three sacks in the game. Maddox Johnson and Devon Welch combined for a sack.
Shelby wins their fifth state title in six years with the 42-21 victory.