Prep Football: East Rowan 15, North Rowan 6

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 5, 2008

By Nick Bowton
SPENCER ó East Rowan coach Brian Hinson took less than a second to pinpoint adjectives to describe his offense in the first half Thursday night: Terrible. Non-existent. Pathetic.
Those words could have described either team’s offense before halftime, but a quarterback change and better blocking gave East enough of an advantage in the second half to beat North Rowan 15-6 at Eagle Stadium.
East’s first points, fittingly, came on a safety early in the third quarter. Its offense, led by quarterback Marquise Weddington, did enough after that to hold off a North team that scored its first points in its third game of the season.
“Marquise came in and did a great job, threw a back-side slant for us well, threw a play-action bootleg well,” said Hinson, who played Trevor Monroe at quarterback most of the first half. “I don’t think it was anything Trevor couldn’t do; it was just a nice change of tempo for us. We felt we could get some speed option on the outside a little bit better with Marquise.
“Trevor didn’t do a bad job. Our offensive line just didn’t play very well, and their defensive line played really well.”
Both defensive lines did, really. Especially in the first half.
Neither team produced a first down in the first quarter, and they combined for four in the first half. East finished the half with no completions and 31 rushing yards, and the Cavaliers didn’t even meet that total, producing 13 yards of offense.
North’s best weapon seemed to be running back Cameron Mallet, but he left the field twice in the opening half because of a groin injury. East, meanwhile, didn’t get a gain of more than 7 yards from star tailback Thomas Lowe until its final drive of the half.
“It sucked,” said Lowe, who finished with 32 carries for 151 yards. “Frustrating. Very, very frustrating. They stacked the box, and we couldn’t contribute off it. It hurt us a little bit.”
Sophomore defensive end Javon Hargrave hurt East more than anyone, repeatedly getting into the backfield to disrupt plays. He had three sacks in the first half and contributed to tackles for loss a few more times.
Hargrave and his defensive teammates, however, couldn’t stop East every time. And they started to wear down a bit after East finally scored with 7:36 remaining in the third quarter.
The Mustangs took a 2-0 lead when North quarterback Jesse Rudisell was corralled in the end zone on a third-and-18 pass play from the 2-yard line. East couldn’t score on the ensuing drive, but Keith Leonard’s second interception of the game gave them possession back at the North 20.
“We were real pumped up on defense,” said safety Ben DeCelle, who had a sack and several other crushing tackles. “Our coaches, the whole first half, were telling us we were gonna have to score.
“We finally got that safety in the second half, and it broke the ice for us. I think it really loosened up our offense a whole lot.”
Good field position didn’t hurt either.
When East took over at the 20, it scored three plays later on a 15-yard pass from Weddington to Jordan Moore. North fumbled on its next offensive play, and East took five plays to drive 31 yards for another touchdown ó this one a 9-yard pass from Weddington to Quentin Sifford.
Weddington went 4-for-4 after halftime, and his second touchdown toss gave East a 15-0 lead with 11:53 remaining.
“The offense not getting first downs consistently put the defense in a hole,” said North coach Tasker Fleming, whose team got its first points of the season on a Vince Shropshire touchdown run midway through the final quarter. “We had too many turnovers. The defense played a good ballgame ó good enough for us to win.
“But the offense needed to put more points on the board.”