Prep Football: South Rowan 15, Carson 6
By Mike London
CHINA GROVE ó South Rowan controlled the football, the clock and the scoreboard in a 15-6 victory against rival, neighbor and NPC foe Carson.
For the most part, both teams also controlled tempers ó at least until seething emotions boiled into a brief melee with 1:40 on the clock.
It was intense. Injured Carson defensive end Joseph Basinger chest-bumped half his teammates before the game ó and he was on crutches.
The difference-makers were wingback Deandre Harris, who powered for 110 yards and two TDs for the Raiders, and end Cadarreus Mason, who turned in another overwhelming effort.
“Carson took our option stuff away from us,” South coach Jason Rollins said. “But we found the only away we could have won this game. Our kids got it done with power and execution. And our defense was just unbelievable. Nothing fancy, but unbelievable.”
Carson (3-3, 2-2) won the first three minutes, taking the opening kickoff and rolling 62 yards. Shaun Warren broke a 17-yard run on third-and-long to get things started. Then quarterback Ryan Jones hit Travis Hayes for 16 yards and found Daniel Yates for a 24-yard touchdown. Yates stuck up a hand, plucked the ball out of the air, found the sideline and sped by defenders.”I thought Ryan had already been tackled,” Yates said. “The ball sort of came out of nowhere, but it was a great ball and I caught it.”
Carson’s PAT was blocked, a bigger and bigger factor as the physical night wore on.
“You look at South on film, and they’ve given up a lot of early scores,” Carson coach Mark Woody said. “But they’re always tough once they get settled in.”
It happened again. South (2-4, 2-2) was difficult to run on after Carson’s opening drive, and Jones completed only two more passes.
“We couldn’t get anything going,” Yates said. “It was a stalemate at the line every time, which made it tough for Shaun to run and tough for Ryan to see over guys to find receivers. It was like South knew everything that was coming before it happened.”
South fumbled on its first possession, and Micah Honeycutt recovered for the Cougars. Carson had an opportunity to jump on top by two scores, but South’s Dakota Walker produced a momentum-changing interception.
South still trailed 6-0 late in the first half when Josh Floyd intercepted a pass, and the Raiders took over at the Carson 24. Harris got his first TD five plays later.
“It was supposed to go the other way,” Harris said. “But I saw the cutback and took it.”
Jacob Jester’s critical PAT gave the Raiders a 7-6 halftime lead.
The third quarter flew by, with long but scoreless South possessions alternating with brief ones by the Cougars.
“It wasn’t a case where we were doing a lot of bad stuff, but South did a lot of good stuff,” Woody said. “On offense, they executed. They held onto the ball, something they hadn’t done on film. On defense, they gave us a lot of trouble. Mason had a heck of a night. He stopped a lot of stuff we’ve been leaning on.”
Mason’s first half included a tackle for loss, a sack and an alert stop on Jenson Harden when Carson ran a fake punt. In the second half, Mason wrapped up Yates for a 9-yard loss.
South’s B.J. Grant intercepted a tipped pass as the fourth quarter opened, and South drove 43 yards, mostly on 4-yard runs by Harris, to take a 13-6 lead with 6:54 left.
Harris got the touchdown behind blocks by lineman Zach Beasley and fullback Steve Sexton.
“We had to go with Deandre, our workhorse, in the second half,” South quarterback Blake Houston said. “The line was blocking great.”South made the decision to go for a two-point conversion. A nine-point lead would put the Cougars down two scores.
“I told the coaches I thought we could get it with a bootleg,” Houston said.
Houston got it ó by inches. He got a good block by Anthony Bowles, but he still had to dive over a defender into the corner of the end zone.
The way South’s defense was playing, that all but sealed the decision. Carson’s Scott Ashby made a terrific, tackle-breaking punt return with 3:39 left, but he fumbled at the end of the runback, South fell on the ball, and it was officially over.
“Everyone was disappointed we lost to West Iredell the way we did last week,” Mason said. “The coaches told us to take all that anger out on Carson. They said to pretend Carson was West Iredell, and that’s what we did.”