ELON — The Western Alamance defense forced three turnovers that led to touchdowns and propeled the Warriors past Rockingham County 49-6 in its Mid-State 3-A Conference opener Friday night.
Defensive back and quarterback Christian Daniels helped the cause for the Warriors on both sides of the ball.
Daniels threw for 123 yards, rushed for 102 and returned an interception for 100 yards.
“The biggest thing was the goal-line stand and pick-6,” Western Alamance coach Jeff Snuffer said. “They were driving and that would have been huge for them.”
A combination of flea-flickers and long passes took Rockingham County to the 1-yard line. After a holding penalty backed up the Cougars, Daniels then hauled in an interception on a deflected slant pass and raced in the other direction, extending the Western Alamance lead to 21-0.
“They put me back there to read the quarterback,” Daniels said. “I almost dropped the ball and fell, but I stayed up and took it to the house. Once I got out there, I knew nobody could catch me.”
The Warriors recorded the only score of the first quarter on a 4-yard pass from Daniels to Will Martin, capping a 13-play, 62-yard drive.
An interception to begin the second quarter by senior linebacker Keontae Anilus led to a 32-yard touchdown run by senior Jake Christman.
“We stick to our game plan,” Anilus said. “We knew we would have to stop the trick plays.”
Strong defensive and special teams play led to great field position for the Warriors. Western Alamance held Rockingham to 63 yards rushing on 26 rushes.
“Our defensive was phenomenal,” Snuffer said. “If you do the little things on offense, defense and special teams right it shows on the scoreboard.
A punt return to the Rockingham County 17-yard line by Christman led to a 3-yard touchdown pass from Daniels to D.J. Kirkland with 10.9 seconds remaining in the half.
When the Cougars finally received good field position on a mishandled snap by the Warriors, quarterback Christopher Shoemaker completed a 33-yard pass to Walker Van Horn and followed that play with a 1-yard sneak to put Rockingham County on the scoreboard.
The next two scores came on Daniels 29- and 58-yard runs. Bradyn Oakley converted on a 7-yard end around for the final score.
Despite losing big in the first conference game of the season, Cougars coach Brad Baker said his team can compete in the Mid-State 3-A Conference.
“Western Alamance is rolling and they know how to win, we can't let them beat us twice,” Baker said. “We have to focus on our next opponent and continue to get better.”