Prep Football: South Rowan 7, Lake Norman 3
By Bill Kiser
MOORESVILLE ó Just from looking at the stat sheet, South Rowan had more than its share of problems against Lake Norman.
But Raiders head coach Jason Rollins cared only about one statistic ó the final score, a 7-3 South victory over the Wildcats on a rain-drenched Friday night.
One big play ó a 71-yard touchdown run by Josh Wike on the Raiders’ second possession of the game ó gave South (4-4, 4-2 North Piedmont Conference) the lead.
Then it was up to the Raiders’ defense to pull them out of the fire ó something they did more than once with their “bend-but-don’t-break” game plan ó en route to South’s third consecutive win.
“That’s a good way to put it, a very good way to put it,” Rollins said. “Our defense is probably playing the best they’ve played all season. They kept stepping it up, without a doubt. … They kept finding a way to shut them down.
“But these kids don’t look at it as an offensive or defensive thing, they look at it as a team thing.”
However, Friday night’s victory over Lake Norman (5-3, 3-3) gave the Raiders that all-important fourth win ó the threshold the NCHSAA uses when determining teams eligible for postseason play.
“This was one of those games we had to have,” Rollins said. “We knew that going in that this was going to be a big game for us.”
Yet it was a big game South nearly gave away to the Wildcats.
The Raiders turned the ball over three times, twice inside Lake Norman territory, and once deep on their own side of the field. A penalty also nullified a potential game-capping TD in the fourth quarter.
South also struggled at times with special teams play, including a bad snap on a punt that gave the Wildcats the ball in the South red zone late in the first half.
However, while Lake Norman put up more offensive numbers ó 17 first downs and 295 yards total offense, to seven first downs and 192 yards for South ó the Raiders’ defense constantly came up with the stops.
They forced three LN turnovers (two fumbles, one coming 2 yards from the end zone, and an interception), and held the Wildcats to a 30-yard Sully Shidler field goal in the third quarter.
“We knew it was going to be a close game,” Rollins said. “They were a type of team that’s a lot like us ó they’ve had their ups and downs, just like we’ve had our ups and downs.
“But this shows that in the end, when that clock runs out, it’s who’s got the better score.”
NOTES: Deandre Harris led the Raiders with 87 yards rushing on 25 carries. Wike touched the ball only two times, but finished with 77 yards. … Blake Houston, who threw for 109 yards and two TDs against Lake Norman last year, was held to 15 yards on 1-of-4 passing. … B.J. Grant had the lone reception. … James Cloud ran for 82 yards and 27 carries for Lake Norman, which had a two-game winning streak snapped. … Chris Blanton threw for 129 yards on 12-of-33 passing, with Kevin Gradert catching seven passes for 74 yards. … South’s Reid Shaver had a fumble recovery.