By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
SOUTH LAUREL — North Laurel’s ‘Thunder and Lightning Show’ was in full effect Friday, as the Jaguar rushing duo of Michael Nelson and Gabe Blair was too much for cross-town rival South Laurel to handle.
Nelson rushed for 210 yards while Blair added more than 100 on the ground to lead North Laurel to a 35-10 win over their district counterparts.
Nelson accounted for three rushing touchdowns and a receiving score during the win.
On one drive in the third quarter, he accounted for 118 rushing yards after penalties on North Laurel set the Jaguars back a couple of times.
“Gabe and Nelson are two different guys,” Larkey said. “Gabe played a great game and played really hard and Michael really made some big plays for us. Michael’s touchdown reception in the corner allowed us to break things open.”
South Laurel coach Larry Welch said Nelson’s playmaking abilities were one of the main reasons the Jaguars were able to pull out the win.
“Nelson is a great athlete,” he said. “He can take things all the way any time and we got out of position and that’s all it takes and hat’s off to him.
“This is a big loss, but we just have to put things together next week and get a win,” he added. “We just made too many mistakes on offense — little things add up. We had penalties that hurt us and we also had some turnovers, too.”
The Cardinals could never get on track offensively after taking a 3-0 lead in the first quarter on a 33-yard field goal by Matt Slavey.
Any time South Laurel moved into North Laurel territory, the Jaguar defense stepped up or Larry Welch’s squad turned out to be its own worst enemy.
“I thought our defense stepped up and played an awesome game tonight,” North Laurel coach Chris Larkey said. “South has so many weapons that can score at any time.
“Our defense did a good job of slowing them down,” he added. “We did a good job of making them earn everything they got.”
After losing a heartbreaker to South Laurel last season which led to North Laurel going 3-7, Larkey admitted his team's win over the Cardinals Friday was huge.
“It helps to win every game, obviously,” he said. “This game means more than just a district game. It’s an in-county rival. It’s an awful game to coach because I have a good friend over there in Larry Welch.
“This is a big win for our fans, our community and our school,” he added. “We had our crowd full tonight. This was just a super win tonight.”
After falling behind 3-0, it didn’t take long for North Laurel to take control of the game, as Hagen Hodges hit Nelson for a 16-yard touchdown strike while Nelson’s 53-yard run gave his team a 14-3 edge with 4:59 left in the first half.
North Laurel put the game away in the third quarter with two more scores from Nelson while South Laurel’s lone highlight was a 96-yard kickoff return for a score from Jason Mitchell, as the Cardinals’ deficit was cut to 28-10.
Hodges wrapped up the win for North Laurel late in the game by scoring from 10-yards out.
By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
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