Prep Football: South Rowan 27, Northwest Cabarrus 6
By Mike London
LANDIS ó The South Rowan Raiders committed 18 penalties that cost 142 yards ó numbers that can make a head coach jump off the nearest bridge.But Jason Rollins’ only jumps were for joy. South atoned for a sea of yellow flags with eight defensive and special-teams takeaways.
South got three rushing TDs from Deandre Harris, a dominating effort from defensive end Cadarreus Mason and an electrifying 94-yard interception return from Mark McDaniel to manhandle Northwest Cabarrus 27-6.
Dylan Walker and Quan Glaspy picked off two passes apiece for South (1-2, 1-0) in its NPC opener.
After back-to-back 3-8 seasons and an 0-2 start to the current one, it qualified as one of the marquee wins of Rollins’ career. It could be a springboard win for South, which showed it has the talent to contend.
“We made a lot of bad mistakes, but we never slowed down,” Rollins said. “Our kids needed this, and it could be a special game for us.”
Rollins, Mason and quarterback Blake Houston all talked about the inspiration the Raiders drew from the record-setting 1983 team that was honored in pregame ceremonies at Donnell Stadium.
“For two weeks, we talked about what that team did ó and how they did it,” Rollins said. The 1983 team won 11 games without a superstar, a lesson not lost on Mason, who downplayed his own breakout performance ó he spent most of his time driving Northwest linemen into the backfield ó as much as possible.
“No individuals here, just a team that got underestimated some because we had two losses,” he said. “We wanted to play like the 1983 team did.”
South took charge at the outset, forcing a quick three-and-out from the Trojans (2-1, 0-1), then driving 76 yards for a 7-0 lead.
Blake Houston’s 18-yard pass to Josh Wike and fullback Steve Sexton’s 24-yard burst preceded a 27-yard scoring run by Harris, who was sprung by a block by Glaspy.
South’s defense then turned away two Northwest scoring drives that would have tied it.
Walker’s first pick stopped a Northwest penetration to South’s 9.
Quarterback Jonathon Wallace, replacing injured standout Jeremy Cannon, got the Trojans moving again early in the second quarter but McDaniel produced his pivotal interception at the South 6.
“I saw a lot of grass and not many white jerseys and I knew I could score,” said the sophomore, who had a 70-yard fumble return TD as a varsity freshman. “Big momentum for us.”
McDaniel sprinted untouched to almost midfield, then read his blocks to go the distance.
Victory was almost a tangible thing that could be squeezed and tasted at that point, and South’s defensive unit turned up the heat. Kelsey Robinson crushed running back Dolando Clowney on Northwest’s first play after the long runback, and Mason barged through on third down to pummel Wallace to the grass to force a punt.
South expanded its lead to 21-0 at halftime when Dakota Walker made a hard hit to force a fumble, and Joe Gutierrez recovered at the Northwest 13. Two plays later, Harris was in the end zone.
“The defense played great, the offensive line blocked well, and Deandre ran hard,” Houston said. “Just guys playing as a unit.”
Rollins was disappointed South couldn’t ice the decision in the third quarter, but the teams traded mistakes most of the second half. Northwest got on the board early in the fourth quarter when Wallace hit Martin Murrell on a 46-yard pass play, but Glaspy’s pick with 4:11 remaining sealed victory, and Harris tacked on his final TD.
“Hats off to South because they were much better than us,” Northwest coach Rich Williams said. “They were more ready to play.” than we were.”
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