Person High School’s Daejon Hodge said that he saw a ton of green grass, because of holes opened up by his offensive lineman, during Friday’s game against Orange.
Did he ever.
The sophomore running back piled up 264 yards on just eight carries and three long touchdowns, helping lead the Rockets to a 41-3 thrashing of Orange on Homecoming Night.
Hodge enjoyed touchdown runs of 90, 94 and 77 yards in his first game back from a shoulder injury suffered in late August.
“I’ve been waiting for this type of performance,” said Hodge, who set a career-best in rushing yards on touchdowns scored.
“It was a welcome back party, that’s for sure,” Person (5-2, 3-0) head coach Carl Smith Jr. said. “We straightened out some things on the offensive line. We’ve improved quarterback play and the pieces around Daejon as a whole. When Daejon stepped back onto the field, he was pretty much able to hit the ground running. He brings an explosive nature to the team. You combine Daejon with Julian Crawley, Daveon Marner and C.J. Hunt, you’re going to have a pretty explosive offense.”
Person’s postseason push continues tomorrow, with a battle for first place in the Central, against third-ranked and reigning conference champion Eastern Alamance (6-1, 3-0).
The Eagles advanced to the 3A East regional semifinals a season ago and are coming off a 63-0 thrashing of Cedar Ridge in which seven different players scored a touchdown.
“I think the style that we bring to the table is different,” Smith said. “We’re not really a spread team, we’re more ground-and-pound. Eastern has a different game plan, but we like our chances against them. We know they’re one of the better teams in the state and we’re ready to prove that we are, too.”
Smith likes the Rockets’ chances against a strong Eagles squad, in large part due to his backfield’s performance against Orange (1-6, 0-3).
After the Rocket defense forced a three-and-out on Orange’s first drive, Hodge took his first carry 90 yards for a score just three minutes into the game.
Nearly 12 minutes and two carries later, with Person up 7-3 and backed up to its own 6-yard line, Hodge took the handoff from Elijah Palmer and raced 94 yards to the end zone.
Hodge flashed his explosiveness one more time, running 77 yards for his final touchdown with four minutes left, pushing Person’s lead to 33-3.
Daveon Marner nearly hit the 100-yard mark, running for 78 yards and a late touchdown. C.J. Hunt, who led the Rockets while Hodge nursed an shoulder injury, gained 12 yards on five carries.
“We trusted our backfield tonight,” Smith said. “I think we have three of the best backs in this league. All three of them had explosive runs tonight. We just kept pounding and playing football, the same thing we did to Northwood. I think the intensity and football contact got to Orange a little bit. We were able to keep our composure better and execute.”
Person’s defense, led by four Julian Farrish sacks and two Jason Phillips interceptions, held an opponent to single digits for the fourth time this season.
Panther running back Nate Sorrels, who gained 79 yards on 14 first-half carries, lost 10 yards on three more in the second half.
Orange quarterback Hank Nunnery, who ended his night with 173 yards, only completed seven of his 20 pass attempts in the second half.
“We gave up too many chunk plays in the first half, but I can’t speak enough of the defense,” Smith said. “They’ve done a great job all year, anchored by our two interior guys in Trevquan Gary and Lamont Johnson. Those guys get after it and they’re really hard to block.”
Defense leads JVs in road victory
The Person High School JV football team showed little rust Thursday night on the road, beating Orange High School, 26-12, in its first game since Sept. 8.
Rocket (2-1) cornerback Quante Bowman returned an interception for a touchdown. John Elkerson turned on his jets, returning a punt for a score. Malachi Harris joined the point party, stripping a Panther (1-2) ballcarrier and running to the end zone for six.
Person running back Malik Jeffreys ran hard for some timely first downs, while the defense created pressure throughout the night.
The Rockets host Eastern Alamance at 6:30 p.m. tonight. The Eagles (2-4) are coming off a 44-8 loss to Eastern Guilford.
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