Blue Devils pull away from West
MOORESVILLE — Star tailback Daisean Reddick hobbled away from Joe Popp Stadium on crutches, and West Rowan limped home with its second opening-night loss to Mooresville in three years.
Reddick scored a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter, but the centerpiece of West’s offense sprained an ankle on the Falcons’ first possession of the second quarter, and his night was over early.
“No excuses,” West coach Scott Young said. “But you lose Daisean and it does change things. It changes everything.”
Mooresville won 35-21, stopping West on a critical fourth-and-a-foot play at the Mooresville 36 with 2:10 left to play when it was 28-21, and then tacking on a late TD for icing.
Mooresville lost three fumbles early on , but it was able to weather that storm of turnovers.
“We had some great opportunities when we were still at full strength, and we just didn’t capitalize,” Young said.
Even if Reddick had stayed whole, West would’ve had its hands full with the Blue Devils.
Reddick doesn’t play defense, and Mooresville’s offense often did whatever it wanted. With quarterback Tommy Bullock directing an offense that could run or pass efficiently, the Blue Devils rolled for 439 yards of offense and 22 first downs, and they hit the Falcons with a combination of sustained drives and big plays.
“I think Mooresville is pretty good, and (coach) Hal Capps has won a whole lot of ballgames, ” Young said. I don’t think we’re bad. We just played poorly tonight. We missed reads and we missed a lot of tackles, and we have to hope our kids are going to take the coaching we’ve got to give them.”
Mooresville’s dominance of the second half was total. West made only four first downs in the half, and two of those came in the final seconds with the outcome decided.
West took a 21-14 halftime lead when new QB Harrison Baucom, who passed for 120 yards and rushed for 76, hit Devin Parks with a short scoring flip just 6 seconds before halftime.
“When our guys came in for halftime, we didn’t talk to them about being down seven, we told them they were down one — one score,” Mooresville coach Hal Capps said. “High school kids seem to handle it better being down one than being down seven. I thought we got beat up in the first half by a very good, very physical football team. We had to raise our level of play, and in the second half we played at a high level for the first game.”
Keyows Weeks did a solid job stepping in for Reddick, but West’s had to rely mostly on Baucom’s passing in the second half.
The last thing Young had imagined when he got on the bus for Mooresville was for a rookie QB to put the ball in air 28 times, but West couldn’t move the chains on the ground.
“We played our hearts out, and all our tailbacks do a good job,” Baucom said. “But Daisean has this special intensity. He raises everybody’s play to another level when he’s got the ball.”
Mooresville cut West’s lead to 21-20 with 7:09 left in the third quarter when Bullock hit Justin Jones with a scoring pass, although a missed PAT allowed West to keep the lead a little longer.
But West went three-and-out to end the third quarter, and Mooresville struck again. Bullock hit Dallas Jackson short, and he exploded down the sideline 40 yards for a 26-21 Mooresville lead. A 2-point conversion put the Blue Devils up 28-21.
West tried to respond, but after the Falcons moved to midfield, Baucom had a first-down pass picked off by Lathan Cannady.
West’s defense got a stop, but when it appeared the Falcons would get solid field position they didn’t. A booming 53-yard Mooresville punt, coupled with a block-in-the-back penalty that negated a fine return, shoved the Falcons back inside their 10, and the clock was ticking.
“That was one of the big plays of the game there,” Capps said. “Great punt by us, but West had a great wall set up for the return. For a team to have its special-teams stuff in place in the first game of the season tells you how good a coach Scott Young is.”
West got one more chance. The Falcons got the ball at their 36 with 4:18 remaining.
Baucom completed a first-down pass to Shakir Simmons as he was leveled, and West pushed to the Mooresville 36.
But with 2:10 left, the Blue Devils got the stop they needed on fourth-and-a-foot.
“In thesame situation earlier, their lineman rooted us out, and their quarterback made a really tough play and dove for the first down,” Capps said. “They took a timeout there, and we thought they’d probably try it again.”
It was a big win for Mooresville, which is determined to bounce back from 4-7, and a wakeup call for West.
“They were in better shape than us,” Young said. “They were high-tempo offensively, and we needed to stop them in three plays. If they ran eight or nine, we got gassed.”