Prep Football: East Rowan 13, West Rowan 7
By Mike London
GRANITE QUARRY - East Rowan linebacker Dustin Mowery wrapped his arms around the greatest streak in Rowan County's football history and brought it to a screeching halt.
Mowery's game-saving tackle of West Rowan receiver Brandon Ijames on the East 1-yard line on the final snap of Friday's struggle will be remembered as long as football is played in Granite Quarry.
"I knew I had to hit him or it's game over - and we lose," Mowery said. "That wasn't going to happen. This is the most pumped up we've ever been. We were scared of West last year, but not this time."
A lot of Mustangs said, "Not this time," and West's proud streak of wins in county games finally ended at 44. Expectant mothers across eastern Rowan will name babies Dustin, Calvin, Dalton, Tyler, Austin or Donte in the weeks to come.
Yes, East's 13-7 win was a big deal.
"It was a great run, but all streaks end sometime," said West coach Scott Young. "Credit East Rowan for a great gameplan and their kids for great execution of that plan. They outplayed us. They deserved to be the team to end our streak."
West's amazing run lasted 11 years and 3 weeks. Mustang seniors such as Mowery were first-graders the last time a Rowan team stood up successfully against the physical power that has made the Falcons feared in the 3A ranks statewide.
"There comes a time when you have to stop being a doormat," said East coach Danny Misenheimer, who handled the win calmly. "West is a very good football team, but our kids did not back down. I'm still not saying we're good because our offense has got to move the ball better. But our defense? Those guys were fantastic, and we were lucky they got a score."
East controlled the first half. West's defense dominated the second, holding East to 25 yards and a single first down, but the Mustangs wouldn't yield.
East (4-3, 3-0 NPC) never turned it over. West turned it over three times, and two were killers - a drive-killing fumble that Dalton Bost recovered and a pick-six by Donte Means that put West in a 13-0 hole and forced the Falcons (5-2, 1-2 NPC) into catch-up mode.
"Everybody did their jobs," East defensive end Austin Hill said. "Guys ran to the ball hard as they could all night."
A sack by Hill ended West's first possession - and that was the only time the Falcons had the ball in the first quarter.
"Our defense just didn't play well when we had East second-and-long and third-and-long in the first half," Young said. "We couldn't get off the field."
It stayed scoreless until East's fifth possession of the first half. The Mustangs went 87 yards, most of it on a 56-yard pass from Sam Wyrick to Jordan Phillips.
Calvin Edwards got the TD on third-and-2 from the 12, as the soggy stadium exploded with noise and confident Mustangs punched the air.
"All week long people asked me if we could win this game," East linebacker Tyler L'Hommedieu said. "I always answered yes. Every single one of us believed we could do this."
With 3:14 left in the third quarter, Means stepped in front of a sideline pass by Tyler Stamp and was off to the races.
"I saw their formation with trips and knew what was coming," Means said. "I read the route and made the pick."
It could've been over right there, but West wasn't done. The Falcons marched on the ground with Daisean Reddick and Desmond Jackson. Reddick scored from the 10 on the first play of the fourth quarter, and it was 13-7, with plenty of time left.
West was driving again, but Stamp fumbled at midfield, and Bost made the recovery with eight minutes left.
With 2:34 left, West got the ball for the last time and needed to travel 79 yards.
With Stamp hitting Chris Patterson and Ijames, the Falcons moved it 78 of those 79. But then Mowery made his stop.
"It's really tough to give up the county streak," Stamp said. "East was good and they went all-out for that entire game. They wanted it more than we did."