Prep Football: Mooresville 35, South Rowan 13
By David Shaw
LANDIS ó South Rowan had only one problem Friday night ó Jjshaun Pinkston.
The Mooresville tailback ran like his name was Barry Sanders in the second half of a pivotal 35-13 victory against the host Raiders.
“There were times when we’d meet him at the point of attack and there was no hole for him,” South coach Jason Rollins said after Pinkston rushed for 253 yards and three touchdowns. “And he’d somehow bounce it to the outside and be gone. He’s the kind of kid that if it’s not there, he’ll find it.”
South (4-5, 4-3 NPC) had no answer for Pinkston, who gained all but 47 of his yards in the second half. The darting, 5-foot-8 senior zigged when the Raiders expected a zag and spent the evening breaking tackles and eluding defenders.
“He was really, really fast,” South defensive back Blake Houston said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anybody as fast as him.”
South actually did a good job containing Pinkston in the first two quarters and built a 13-7 halftime lead. Pinkston netted only 15 yards on his first five carries, but as winning coach Barclay Marsh reported afterward, “You can only contain him for so long.”
“Once Jjshaun gets it going downhill, he gets to the second and third level of the defense very quickly,” Marsh added. “I’m not saying he’s the best running back in the state, but if there’s a better one we haven’t seen him.”
Mooresville (7-2, 6-1) used the spark to inch within a half-game of idle conference leader West Rowan. The Devils had a devil of a time in the early going, when South linebacker Joe Gutierrez recovered a fumble at the Devils’ 38-yard line before the game was four minutes old.
Six plays later, Houston ó also the Raiders’ starting quarterback ó fed a handoff to fullback Deandre Harris, who scored on a 14-yard burst around the left end. Preston Penninger’s extra point put SR ahead 7-0 midway through the opening quarter.
Mooresville tied the score following a South fumble on a botched punt attempt early in the second quarter. Then Houston directed one of South’s most impressive scoring drives of the season, a 72- yard, 18- play march that trimmed nearly 10 minutes off the clock. He called his own number and jitterbugged into the end zone on a 6-yard run with 30 seconds left in the half.
“We did a good job controlling the game and keeping Pinkston off the field in the first half,” said Rollins, whose team had a three-game winning streak snapped. “That was the biggest thing we did.”
Then the Raiders did an abrupt about-face while Mooresville ó playing like sharks who smelled blood in the water ó displayed a renewed swagger in the second half. Pinkston broke at least three tackles and gained 29 yards on the first play from scrimmage. Four snaps later he followed 270-pound right tackle Jordan Champion into the end zone on a 4-yard TD run.
On their next possession the Devils drove 72 yards in two-plus minutes and built a 21-13 edge on Pinkston’s 7-yard gallop.Before the third quarter was over it was 28-13, courtesy of Pinkston’s 44-yard jailbreak sweep down the right sideline.
“If there’s the smallest crease, he’s gonna take it and cut it back,” said SR defensive back Reid Shaver, who complained about the Raiders’ poor tackling technique. “In the second half we quit wrapping him up. It’s basic stuff that we practiced in the summer. If you don’t tackle you don’t win ó and tonight it showed.”
South next must contend with K.P. Parks and West Rowan. The county’s premier running back and his mates visit Landis next Friday.
“We’re gonna have to do what we did in the first half,” Rollins said. “But we’re gonna have to do it for four quarters.”
NOTES: South collected 11 of its 14 first downs and 125 of its 152 total yards in the first half. … The game was halted for about 15 minutes with 1:17 remaining in the third quarter when South defensive lineman Kelsey Robinson suffered a mild concussion. He was placed on a stretcher, loaded into an ambulance and sent to the hospital. But apparently he felt better and returned to the sideline with about four minutes remaining. “I guess he talked them into turning around,” Rollins said with a quizzical look.
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