Shelby Uses Smothering Defense To Win Their Sixth Title In Seven Years Things did not start off smoothly for the Shelby Golden Lions as they took the field against the Salisbury Hornets at Wake Forest Stadium. Shelby got the opening kickoff but would fumble it and the Hornets recovered. They also went three-and-out on their first drive and punted it very short, giving Salisbury great field position again. But the Shelby defense stood tall on both possessions.
Once the Golden Lions’ offense got going, the Hornets would be in trouble. Once the Golden Lions got near the goal line, they went into the heavy package that helped them against Burns last week. Ja’hari Mitchell punched the first touchdown in with a four-yard run (PAT good) to give Shelby the 7-0 lead with less than six minutes to go in the first quarter.
Shelby would do it again early in the second quarter. This time, Mitchell would punch it in for a one-yard touchdown run (PAT mishandled). With just over five minutes to go, the Golden Lions struck again. This time, it would be an Isaiah Bess 38-yard touchdown pass to Diavonni Daley (PAT good). The score would remain 20-0 at half-time.
The Hornets offense continued to struggle in the third quarter. But the defense was able to stop a Golden Lion drive by recovering a fumble deep in their own territory. But the defense could only hold for so long as the Golden Lions would score right before the period ended. Ja’hari Mitchell’s sic-yard touchdown run (PAT good) gave Shelby the 27-0 advantage. Shelby would put the final nail in the coffin with just under eight minutes to play. Going in the heavy package again near the goal line, the defense keyed on Ja’hari Mitchell running the ball, but he would pass it to a wide open Nick Stites for a nine-yard touchdown pass (PAT good). Caden Sheeley was 4-for-4 on his PAT kicks.
The Golden Lions would pitch the 34-0 shutout to win the state title. Mitchell had 79 scrimmage yards (46 yards receiving, 24 rushing, 9 passing) but he accounted for four touchdowns (three rushing and one passing). Isaiah Bess passed for 212 yards and a touchdown. His top receiver, Diavonni Daley, caught 8 catches for 120 yards and a touchdown. Donye Fuller led the rushing effort with 116 yards. Daley and Dashaun Christopher each had an interception. Malaki Hamrick, Jack Hollifield, Ethan Mitchell and Nick Stites each had a sack.
Salisbury amassed only 39 yards total offense the entire game. They had -7 total yards in the first half. Blaine Shellhorn recovered the Shelby fumble in the third quarter. Marcus Cook forced the fumble on the opening kickoff. Brandon Broadway recovered for the Hornets. Zae Clay registered three sacks on defense for Salisbury.
The Golden Lions end the season at 15-1 and Salisbury ends up 13-3.