Prep Football: Northwest Cabarrus 17, South Rowan 14
By Paul Hershey
KANNAPOLIS ó Despite its two victories to begin the season, South Rowan head coach Jason Rollins said his team had yet to put together more than a half of good football over a single game.
On Friday night, the Raiders went backward in that respect ó playing just one strong quarter.
A sluggish first 37 minutes against Northwest Cabarrus put South in a 17-point hole and two fourth-quarter scores weren’t enough to overcome a huge deficit in a 17-14 nonconference loss to its former NPC rival.
“A lot of people don’t realize in our two games we played a half against Salisbury and we played a half against Kannapolis,” Rollins said. “But we stayed in it. In this one, when you play only one quarter, it’s not gonna happen. We’ve got to find a way to play four quarters.”
“We shot ourselves in the foot offensively so many times, and it was biting us. Turnovers, penalties, you name it we found a way to do it. But we’ll fix it and we’ll make it right.”
D’Andre Harris’ 4-yard run finally got the Raiders (2-1) on the board with under nine minutes left in the fourth quarter. They got within three in the final minute on Quan Glaspy’s touchdown catch off of a tip by teammate B.J. Grant.
But the ensuing onsides kick was easily fielded by Northwest’s Richard Cotton to end the rally.
“Everybody finally got it together, but it was too late,” Harris said.
Coming off last week’s huge win over A.L. Brown, the fact that South didn’t exactly have it together early on Friday night couldn’t have been a big surprise ó even for as much as Rollins and the coaching staff tried to guard against a letdown.
“We fought it all week,” Rollins said. “Even in our pregame meal and our devotion we talked about getting focused… but they’re kids.”
The result was an ugly first half in which the Raiders gained just 97 total yards, committed five penalties, lost one fumble and essentially blocked their own punt.
Still, South was down only 3-0 thanks to its defense, which limited Northwest to just 82 total yards and twice turned the Trojans away in scoring position late in the half.
The gap grew much larger in the third quarter, however.
Northwest (2-1) took the second-half kickoff and put together a 12-play, 75-yard drive that took almost six minutes off the clock. Quarterback Jeremy Cannon kept the drive alive with a 23-yard completion on a third-and-long and scored on a sneak to finish it off. South blocked the PAT to keep it 9-0.
The Raiders lost a second fumble and had to punt on their next two drives before Northwest got the eventual game-winning score on the second play of the fourth quarter.
Cannon threw to Grant Keyes for the two-point conversion to make it 17-0. Cannon finished with 133 yards passing, while gaining 57 on the ground.
Faced with the huge deficit, South finally got going, thanks in large part to Harris. The senior back started it with a strong kickoff return, then rumbled for a 25-yard rush and added a 10-yarder that was coupled with a Trojans’ personal foul that moved the ball inside the Northwest 10.
Two plays later, Harris took a direct snap and ran untouched through a hole on the left side for the Raiders’ first points.
South missed a chance to get closer with five minutes left when Jacob Jester’s 40-yard field goal sailed wide right, but the Raiders got the ball with 2:34 left at their own 37.
Harris took a screen pass for 11 yards and another Northwest personal foul tacked on 15 more. Glaspy followed with a 26-yard reception to the Trojan 9.
That’s when things turned bizarre. Quarterback Blake Houston tripped and fell for a 2-yard loss, then caught his own deflected pass ó but for a 12-yard loss.
Houston then threw one up for grabs in the back corner of the end zone that Grant went up and tipped. Glaspy was there to grab it for a 23-yard touchdown with 46 seconds to play.
Still, Rollins said the Raiders could take positives out of the finish.
“There are some good lessons that come out of it,” he said. “We know we can do some things with our backs against the wall.
“So many times these kids years ago when something like that happens their heads would drop. And their heads dropped at times tonight. They’re human. But they kept fighting back and that’s all you can ask for.”