Prep Football: South Rowan 31, East Rowan 7
By Nick Bowton
LANDIS ó The South Rowan defense has a habit of letting opponents get yards and score points early, only to shore up and shut teams down as a game goes on.
The Raiders employed that method again Friday night against East Rowan, and this time the offense followed suit. Deandre Harris rushed for three touchdowns, two in the final quarter, and South beat East 31-7 to win consecutive games for the first time since 2006.
“Our thing all year has been finish,” said defensive back Reid Shaver, who returned an interception for a touchdown and also recovered a fumble. “Normally we’ll start out, we’ll give them a touchdown. This time we gave up two runs, but they didn’t score so we were OK with that.
“But that fourth quarter we just turned it on. (Harris) was running hard. The defense stepped up; the offense stepped up. We did it as a team.”
Through three quarters, the Raiders (3-4, 3-2 NPC) made mistakes as a team too.
South finished with 14 penalties for 139 yards, the majority of them coming in the third quarter. One penalty, called for roughing the passer, negated B.J. Grant’s 97-yard interception return.
“We kept kind of wanting to ignite that dynamite and blow ourselves up,” South coach Jason Rollins said. “Penalties killed us. They’re gonna pay for it, and they’re gonna pay for it, and they’re gonna pay for it. We’ve dealt with them every week. I’m not sure the way to deal with it. I could say run them till they puke, but I don’t know if that would do it.
“But they played hard and overcame the penalties. We were able to overcome it and keep plugging away and fighting back. It just shows they’re maturing a lot as each week goes by.”
As Rollins sees his players mature, he’s seeing them learn how to win games instead of finding ways to lose.
The Raiders never appeared in serious jeopardy of losing last night, but East (1-6, 0-5) did seize momentum briefly in the third quarter. The Mustangs trailed 18-0 when they drove 57 yards for a touchdown with 24 seconds left in the the quarter. Trevor Monroe’s quarterback sneak got East within 18-7, and kicker Andrew May then recovered his own onside kick.
South responded with a fumble recovery by Shaver two plays later, and the Raiders then dominated the final quarter.
“The kids were fighting hard,” East coach Brian Hinson said. “The story of our season right now is just sometimes execution and simple mistakes, like the halfback pass we threw that was wide open and we just dropped it.
“And that fumble did hurt us big. We had momentum, and we lost it right there.”
South didn’t score after regaining possession, but East’s next two drives ended in a turnover on downs and another interception. Harris then set himself up for a short touchdown run with a 46-yard rush, and he added a 65-yard touchdown run for the final points.
“We were just feeling it in the fourth quarter,” said Harris, who had 15 carries for a career-high 187 yards.
Rollins is fine with his team “feeling it” late. He’d just like to see better performances early too.
“It’s almost like they have to get on the field and get comfortable,” he said. “I keep thinking maybe I should bring them out and literally run them live for a quarter before the game starts to get them going.”
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