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Prep Football: West Rowan 35, South Point 7

By Mike London
mlondon@salisburypost.com
MOUNT ULLA ó West Rowan safety Marco Gupton’s knee surgery got delayed a bit longer, but offensive line coach Joe Nixon’s wedding is still on.
West blasted South Point 35-7 in a 3A state semifinal to give Nixon a shot at the greatest double-double in human history next Saturday. He’ll have a chance to win a state-championship ring when the Falcons play West Craven at noon in Winston-Salem. At 4:30, he’ll exchange rings with Hillary Hampton, West’s all-time leading scorer in girls basketball, in a wedding ceremony at Catawba.Busy day. Nixon and Hampton insist it will all work out.Things also worked out for Gupton, who postponed ACL surgery because he couldn’t bear not being part of West’s playoff run. His pick capped an overwhelming win and warmed the hearts of thousands of Falcon fans on a frigid Friday.
“Since I tore the ACL, it’s been like climbing Mount Everest,” Gupton said. “Up, then down, up again, then down again. Now it’s all up. This is a lifetime memory.”
West (14-1), which broke the county record for victories in a season, got three touchdowns from hobbled K.P. Parks and a brilliant first half from sophomore QB B.J. Sherrill.
“We mixed things up well with the run and pass,” guard Joe Kerley said. “We just played hard as a team, with everybody getting their guy. With Parks in and out and B.J. throwing more we had their defense guessing.”
Both West lines controlled the trenches.
“We got pushed around on both sides of the ball, and when you lose the line of scrimmage there’s not a lot you can do,” South Point coach Jon Devine said. “West is a great football team and made no mistakes to speak of.”
Second-seeded South Point (13-2) scored early when a 43-yard scamper by QB Desmond Lowery set up a 19-yard TD burst by fullback Aaron Crumbley on a fourth-and-4 play, but the Falcons ruled the next 42 minutes.
Crumbley wasn’t as effective after taking a big shot from linebacker Nate Dulin, and Lowery took a pounding from West’s powerful defensive front, led by Chris Smith and Kenderic Dunlap.
West moved the ball its first two possessions but didn’t score. It broke through in the middle of the second quarter when Jon Crucitti made a leaping catch of a Sherrill pass for a 30-yard gain to the 4. Parks, who played about half West’s offensive snaps, scored on the next play.
“Last week, K.P. ran 26 times, but only about 15 were effective,” West coach Scott Young said. “We only wanted K.P. to carry 15 times tonight, and we wanted to pick and choose those spots. We wanted them to all be effective.”
Most were. He gained 112 yards on 14 carries.
West’s 14 points at the end of the first half were fatal for South Point.
It was still 7-7 when a fine South Point punt died at the West 3. But Sherrill started a 97-yard drive with an 11-yard completion to Crucitti, who had eight first-half catches.
“We were able to get good matchups, our fast receivers against their linebackers,” Young said.
The 97-yard march nearly ended at the West 28 when Parks fumbled, but receiver Jonathan Hill recovered for the Falcons at the 33.
“The only ball we shook loose all night and they gained 5 yards on it,” Devine said.
Crucitti finished the long drive with a 30-yard dash down the home sideline 70 seconds before halftime.
“There was a wall of people out there with nowhere to go, but then (fullback) Jeremy Melchor flattened a guy and it opened up,” Crucitti said. “I saw green grass, and I kicked it up a little.”
West’s defense forced a quick three-and-out, and West coaches had noted on film South Point’s punter doesn’t kick from routine depth.
“The block point was like 5 yards deep instead of 8,” Young said. “We went after it, and Dominique Noble used his length and athletic ability to make a big play.”
A twist with Josh Poe freed Noble, who came up the middle for the block. Austin Greenwood scooped the loose ball, scored and the Falcons led 21-7 at halftime and had all kinds of momentum.
“Man, it was loud tonight,” Crucitti said. “Then we got a TD, a three-and-out and the blocked punt for another TD before the half. Then it got awfully quiet on the South Point side.”
It would get quieter.
When South Point fumbled the second-half kickoff, the ever-present Greenwood recovered. He set up a Matt Turchin field goal, but Turchin was roughed on the play. West took the points off the board, accepted the penalty to the 5, and Parks got his second TD for a 28-7 lead.
By the end of the third quarter, South Point fans who had come by the thousands, were drifting toward the parking lots in clusters of 10.
All they missed was one more touchdown by Parks.
 
 

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