Vance opened its MECKA 4A conference football schedule with a convincing 56-13 victory at home over winless Concord Robinson on Friday night.
A nice one to enjoy for a little while, but first-year Cougars coach Aaron Brand is thinking long term.
“I’ve been telling them that we don’t want to have a team, we want to have a program,” Brand said after Vance, ranked No. 10 in the Observer’s Sweet 16, claimed its fourth victory in five games. “We’re just trying to turn the corner.”
A potent offense led by quarterback Omar Baker and a stifling defense combined to stake the Cougars (4-1, 1-0) to a 42-0 halftime lead before the visiting Bulldogs (0-5, 0-1) rallied for a couple of late touchdowns.
“A great start, and we played pretty well in the middle, but we didn’t have a happy ending,” Brand said.
Still, not a bad night – especially for senior quarterback Baker, who completed 11-of-18 passes for 154 yards and four touchdowns and gained 125 yards on three rushes – one a 50-yard touchdown run and another a 53-yarder which set up another score. He rang up those totals in just over two quarters of play.
“We’re just grinding and trying to win,” Baker said. “We had a good scheme and a good game plan. The offensive line blew people out and the receivers did a great job catching the ball.”
The Cougars were dominant from the start, scoring on all six of their first-half possessions.
Baker threw touchdown passes of 42 yards to Jonathan Ifedi, 7 yards to Donavan Spencer and 29 yards to Myles Dorn in the first half. Spencer added a 33-yard touchdown run and Bruce Knox had a 26-yard scoring run to open the second quarter.
But Robinson, which was limited to just 50 yards in the first half, didn’t quit and – with the clock running non-stop by agreement of the coaches in the second half – rallied for a pair of fourth quarter scores after Vance turnovers.
An interception by Malcolm Lewis and a fumble recovery by Jahquil Brown respectively set up a 40-yard touchdown run by Markel Dalton and a 2-yard touchdown run by quarterback DJ Young.
The points were the first for the Bulldogs since a 20-14 loss at Northwest Cabarrus on Aug. 29.
Despite the late lapses, Brand said his team was “off to a good start, but we want to get a signature win in the conference on the road,” Brand said.
They’ll have a chance to do that at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Kannapolis A.L. Brown. Robinson hosts Hough on Friday in Concord.