Prep Football: Lake Norman 23, East Rowan 7
By Bret Strelow
GRANITE QUARRY ó Ben DeCelle took a direct shotgun snap for the first time and sprinted 65 yards.
DeCelle’s big gain set up a first-quarter touchdown, but East Rowan didn’t mount any more scoring drives in a 23-7 loss to Lake Norman.
East’s other 44 offensive plays, including three more direct-snap rushes by DeCelle, produced 102 yards.
“We have to find ways, especially after last week, to move the ball,” East coach Brian Hinson said. “We felt with a little bit of empty (backfield) we could do that. There were some new wrinkles. We’re struggling right now, and we have to find new ways to move the ball.”
East (1-5, 0-4 NPC) totaled 81 yards of offense against Mooresville and committed five turnovers against Lake Norman, which followed three of the miscues with scores.
Two touchdowns and a field goal gave the Wildcats a 17-7 lead, and quarterback Chris Blanton’s 20-yard completion on a fourth-and-8 play midway through the fourth quarter preceded Eric Manser’s third TD run.
“Our defense has been our strong point, but it’s hard for them to answer the bell every time you’re put there with such short fields,” Hinson said.
Brad Chamberlain intercepted a pass on the second play from scrimmage, and Manser (29 carries, 104 yards) scored from the 1-yard line.
The Mustangs responded with their best offensive series. DeCelle took a snap from East’s 33 and raced down the right sideline. A trio of defenders approached him at Lake Norman’s 30, and DeCelle cut back toward the center of the field.
DeCelle dragged a defensive back from the 9 to the 2, and quarterback Marquise Weddington scored on a second-down sneak with 7:27 left in the opening quarter.
“We put the play in this week, and it worked well in practice,” DeCelle said. “I didn’t expect it to work that well, but we came out and hit it big and ended up putting one in.
“I had three guys overpursuing, and I knew they were coming hard. I got a good block down at the 10, but a guy got on the back of my jersey. I couldn’t haul him in.”
The Mustangs had four more possessions in the first half, and three of them began at East’s 45 or better.
Andrew May recovered his own onside kick after Weddington’s TD, but the Mustangs eventually punted.
Lake Norman’s Zac Jones fell on a botched handoff late in the first quarter, and Manser put the Wildcats (4-2, 2-2) ahead with a 2-yard run.
East’s Josiah Hurst picked off a pass three plays into the third quarter, and Lake Norman regained possession near midfield when the Mustangs lost the ball on a second-down handoff. Sully Shidler’s 23-yard field goal pushed the Wildcats in front 17-7.
A missed extra point following Lake Norman’s final touchdown kept East within two scores, but David Ray intercepted a pass in East territory with 5:15 remaining. DeCelle capped an eventful evening by stopping Manser short of the end zone on a fourth-down carry from the 1.
DeCelle finished with 81 yards on eight carries and 53 yards on four receptions. He had a 37-yard kickoff return and 30-yard punt return.”He can take it to the house any time he touches it,” Lake Norman coach Scott Sherrill said. “That’s what we preached all week. Our guys, for the most part, made some tackles, but it was scary at times.”