Prep Football: Carson 33, East Rowan 21

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 20, 2008

By Nick Bowton
CHINA GROVE ó Carson football coach Mark Woody hadn’t finished jawing at a referee on the sideline when Daniel Yates fielded a kickoff early in the fourth quarter Friday.
Woody’s anger turned to joy about 15 seconds later, when Yates crossed the goal line for a momentum-swinging touchdown.
Yates’ second score of the game gave the Cougars a two-touchdown lead, and Shaun Warren added an electrifying touchdown run to seal Carson’s 33-21 victory against East Rowan ó the first home victory in school history.
“Daniel’s a big-time football player,” said Woody, whose team also won its first conference game since joining the NPC for the 2006 season. “He’s been with us from the beginning and taken some bumps and bruises along the way. We’ve got some other kids right now that are stepping up, so he blends in now.
“If you’re not careful, he’ll do that to you.”
As good as Yates’ return was, Carson wouldn’t have won without big games from some of the “other kids” last night.
Warren, a sophomore tailback, capped a career night with a 73-yard touchdown run. Defensive end Dakota Jones spent a good portion of the night in the East Rowan backfield. And defensive back Jenson Harden had as solid of an all-around game as any Cougar.
Harden stopped a fake punt with a jarring tackle, had another tackle to force a turnover on downs, intercepted a pass, and ran 21 yards on a fake punt on his first high school carry.
“It’s amazing what you can do when you come together and play with technique,” Harden said. “It’s crazy.”
As was the case after a season-opening victory against North Rowan ó the first in Carson history ó the Cougars couldn’t stop smiling after beating another county opponent.
Carson (2-2, 1-1 NPC) set the tone from the opening drive, marching 66 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown. Warren gained 61 of his career-high 183 yards on the drive and capped it with a 12-yard run.
Carson pushed its lead to 14-0 late in the second quarter, when Yates ran left, dipped past a defender toward the middle of the field and darted past a few more for a 20-yard touchdown run.
Yates spent his first two seasons as Carson’s only offensive weapon, but he made his biggest impact Friday night on a kickoff return.
East had gotten within 20-14 early in the fourth quarter when Ben DeCelle caught the second of his three touchdown passes. Woody berated the officials after Joseph Keophilavanh appeared to come down with possession at the same time as DeCelle and eventually wrestled the ball away.
A signal hadn’t been given by the time Keophilavanh came out with the ball, and when referees ruled the play a touchdown, East trailed only 20-14.
Cue Yates.
“It was supposed to be a squib kick,” East coach Brian Hinson said. “I don’t know what happened. Like I told the kids after the game, you gotta execute. Do what the coaches tell you and execute, and that probably doesn’t happen.”
Instead of a squib, Yates caught the kick in stride at the 18-yard line. He ran toward the Carson sideline, cut up field around the 25 and had only the kicker to beat.
Harden then stuck Marquise Weddington on a fourth-and-goal with seven minutes remaining, and Warren pushed the Cougars’ lead to 33-14 when he ran over one of his own blockers, hurdled past him, spun out of a pack of Mustangs and sprinted to the end zone.
“Bush learned everything from me,” Yates said jokingly of his younger teammate. “It feels great. Everybody’s making big plays. We got all kinds of athletes. We got back on track this week, and we should keep it rolling.”