Prep Football: Statesville 39, West Rowan 20
By David Shaw
STATESVILLE - If the West Rowan football team was looking for trouble Friday night, it came to the right place.
Host Statesville obliged by interupting the Falcons' magical history tour - and snapping their assortment of winning streaks - with a 39-20 drumming in the NPC opener for both teams.
"Not only that," running back Desmond Jackson said. "The winner of this game pretty much has the inside track in the conference. We've got to start all over. We've got to go to practice and act like nothing happened."
It was the kind of performance West (4-1, 0-1) would like to forget, but can't. It had captured 32 straight league games and 30 straight on the road. But this game wasn't so much lost as it was given away.
"When you play a quality team like that and have five turnovers, you don't have a chance," coach Scott Young said. "Not a chance."
Despite losing four fumbles - two were returned for Statesville touchdowns - and having a pass intercepted, West actually had a chance to prevail. When quarterback Tyler Stamp tossed a 70-yard TD pass down the left sideline to junior widout Chris Patterson early in the second half, the Falcons had a 20-19 lead.
"We talked about trying that play at halftime," Stamp said after passing for 132 yards and two touchdowns. "We noticed that the corners were biting real hard, so we gave them a fake, a stop-and-go, and (Patterson) was wide open."
Kicker Zack Russell split the sticks to give West its final lead. Offensively, the Falcons were never heard from again. The last six possessions resulted in a couple of punts, three turnovers and a fourth-down incompletion on the game's final snap.
"They exposed us," Young said. "They exposed some of our weaknesses tonight."
West didn't play well enough to win. Its defense had no answer for Statesville quarterback Tristan Mumford, the beefy backup who spelled injured starter Carlis Parker. Mumford completed 19 of 36 passes for 250 yards and threw touchdowns to four different receivers.
"They didn't do anything we hadn't seen on film," said West linebacker Logan Stoodley. "But against a team that good you've got to be perfect. They've got a high-powered offense and they're able to go to the house at any time. You can't make a mistake because they'll make you pay for it."
West had a 7-6 lead in the second quarter when Jackson lost a fumble that Statesville's Izeke Young confiscated and returned 15 yards for a touchdown. "A lineman met me in the backfield before I could even get the carry," said Jackson, who rushed for 127 yards and made two end zone appearances. "It got knocked loose and the guy ran it in."
The Greyhounds repeated the trick in the final quarter. This time Stamp completed a 10-yard pass to Caleb Cranfield - but the ball was stripped by defender Blake Turner and returned 36 yards for Statesville's final TD.
"Normally when we we're in a big game like this, on the big stage, we force the opponent into those unforced errors," Young said. "We usually force the opponent into mistakes. They forced us into mistakes tonight."
Perhaps the most memorable one came late in the first half. West was clinging to a 13-12 lead and had Statesville (4-1, 1-0) moving in reverse. On fourth-and-a-cab-ride from the Falcons' 33-yard line, Mumford somehow located senior Marquis Willis wide open in the middle a threaded a perfect touchdown pass.
"Fourth-and-28 and we give them 33," Young said. "Everybody in the stadium knew what was gonna happen except for us. Obviously, we coached them not to give up the big play. But we've got guys who won't go compete and stop those big plays."
The burning question now is what's next for the Falcons? "It's gonna motivate us to work harder," Stoodley said. "We never want to feel this way again."