For 13 minutes, Rocky Mount High’s dominance was evident in every place except the scoreboard.
Once the Gryphons found their bearings, however, the score reflected the play. Rocky Mount overwhelmed Nash Central, 6-0, in the Big East Conference opener for both teams Monday at Nash Central High School.
“We had all the possession, but we were being too ticky-tack in the final third with our passes,” Rocky Mount coach Drew Nick said. “We had to be aggressive to the goal, and once we were, (the goals) started coming.”
Garrett Webb, as he did all game, held up play from the top of the Gryphons’ formation, and his drop-back pass to Chris Jacob gave the Gryphons their initial tally in the 13th minute. Jacob hammered the ball home for Rocky Mount (6-4-1, 1-0 Big East), which now hasn’t been beaten in its past seven games.
“Having that much possession and not scoring really gets in your head,” Jacob said. “We needed to actually take shots and get up. Coach Nick told us we were passing too much.”
With Webb allowing midfielders to jump into the attack and winger Brandon Rotimi bothering the Nash Central corner backs, the Gryphons’ pressure began to create problems for the Bulldogs (0-1 Big East).
A penalty was given after Nash Central defender Matt Barfield made contact with Ty Ellstrom in the 18-yard box, and Webb converted from the spot.
“We started getting relaxed, started getting into the motions,” Webb said. “After the first one, we realized we could score.”
The first 30 minutes were played almost exclusively in Nash Central’s half, but the Bulldogs did have spells of decent possession toward halftime.
Though Nash Central did not record a shot on goal Monday, everything wasn’t lost for the Bulldogs.
“We had some good possession at the end of the first half when we stopped playing kickball,” Nash Central coach Ryan Ruiz said. “We can’t get frustrated. We have to learn from what worked, what didn’t and what we have to do when we play them again.”
The flood gates opened in the second half for Rocky Mount.
Rotimi fired home from the right side in the 53rd minute, then Langley Salter did the same from the left side nine minutes later.
Salter played a corner kick into the box in the 69th minute, and the ball took a deflection and found Khalideo Jackson-Davis for another goal.
Sam Lilley scored off a left-footed shot from the top of the box in the 78th minute to complete the scoring.
Nash Central goalkeeper Daniel Benz made nine saves Monday.
While Rocky Mount had expected to win, the Gryphons were encouraged with their play. Wilson Hunt, Wilson Fike and Southern Nash – the top three teams in the conference – await Rocky Mount.
“In our league, anybody can beat anybody,” Nick said. “The biggest thing for us is our consistency. If we can maintain our good play, we can make it interesting.”
Rocky Mount High 6
Nash Central 0
Goals: Chris Jacob 13’; Garrett Webb 22’ (pen.); Brandon Rotimi 53’; Langley Salter 62’; Khalideo Jackson-Davis 69’; Sam Lilley 78’.
Assists: Webb - 2; Salter.
Shots (On Target): RMH: 31 (15). NC: 1 (0).
Saves: Daniel Benz (NC) - 9.
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or npiotrowicz