East finishes strong against South
LANDIS — East Rowan put a three game losing skid way behind them in impressive and record breaking fashion Friday night.
The Mustangs (3-5, 4-7) racked up nine touchdowns, using all phases of their game, as they rolled past host South Rowan 61-26 to close out the regular season. The key South Piedmont conference win virtually assures East of a spot in the 3A play-offs next week.
The Raiders meanwhile, closed out their season on senior night in Donnell Stadium with their first ever winless campaign, 0-8, 0-11. They hung in with the Mustangs in the early going but a 27 point outburst in the second quarter by East made the rest of the game academic.
“It was a good night all around,” East Coach Danny Misenheimer said. “Our kids fought hard the whole game and my hat is off to South because they fought hard too. It was a very physical game.”
The physical nature of the game resulted in 24 total penalties against the teams, totaling 198 yards. East racked up 15 for 133 on their own including 5 personal fouls for late hits or roughing the passer.
“We hated the penalties happened,” Misenheimer said. “That is just not our style of football and it is not South’s style either. It just got a little out of hand for a while.”
Yet the Mustangs had too many positives to celebrate from the game to dwell on the penalties. Junior quarterback Sam Wyrick set a school record for single season passing that had stood since 1970 (by C.M. Yates.) Wyrick notched 91 yards, all the first half, on a perfect 6 for 6 effort and now has 1673 yards for the season. He also had a pair of TD passes to give him 18 for the season, one short of the school single season record.
Freshman halfback Max Wall came of age on this night as the Mustangs relied primarily on their ground game throughout. Wall racked up 189 yards on the ground and scored three touchdowns, by far his best effort of the season.
Junior Tre Gillespie, who is back after missing several games with injuries, had a pair of rushing scores as well to go with 53 yards. Fullback Jake Boltz had one TD and 59 yards for East as the county’s top passing team showed they could run it as well, amassing 340 yards on 53 carries.
And then there was the defense and senior DB Donte Means who held the Raiders to 151 yards total offense. The Mustangs had 4 sacks of South QB Heath Barringer and picked him off twice, one by Means and one by Joshua Moses. Means returned his pick 50 yards to set up a score in the big second quarter. He also dazzled the crowd with two 97 yard kickoff returns, although one was called back by penalty. The other came with just 2:31 to play and did count.
“The return lanes were wide open thanks to good blocking by my teammates,” the softspoken Means said.
For the Raiders, Barringer did have a pair of touchdown passes while slot Bryson Deaton ran for a score and also had a pair of long kick-off returns to set up good field position.
Raider coach Jason Rollins had high praise for his team despite a winless season. “These kids faced so much adversity during the season,” Rollins said, “But they stayed together. They stayed with what our team covenants are and they held true to them. We have a lot of work to do and we will get right back at it in December.”
East Rowan now awaits their play-off assignment and most likely will face a number one seed in the West bracket. “We get a fresh start and don’t care who we play,” Means said. “We can play with anybody in the state.”