Prep football: South Rowan 35, Robinson 21

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 11, 2009

By Bret Strelow
CONCORD ó South Rowan coach Jason Rollins challenged his offense to score four touchdowns.
The Raiders met his demand during a punt-free first half.
Blake Houston rushed for one TD and threw for two more as South bounced back from its first loss by earning a 35-21 win at Jay M. Robinson.
The Raiders, who followed season-opening victories over Salisbury and A.L. Brown with a 17-14 setback against Northwest Cabarrus, led 28-14 at the break Friday night.
“I was proud of the offense,” Rollins said. “Last week they felt like they shut down mentally. We really worked and harped this week that we were going to work hard and get back to basics.
“I challenged them, ‘You need to challenge yourself to score 28.’ That’s a heck of a challenge to make that statement, and they got after it for a little bit.”
Senior linebacker Cadarreus Mason ó who had 17 tackles, two sacks and a game-sealing stop on fourth down ó intercepted a pass on the fourth play from scrimmage.
The Raiders (3-1) scored touchdowns on each of their four first-half possessions and finished with 246 rushing yards. D’Andre Harris led the way with 98, and Thomas Lowe accounted for 91. Houston checked in with 56.
“The O-line was blocking great, and we had a good gameplan going in,” Houston said. “When all of us run hard and play hard like that, I think we’re pretty tough to stop.”
The Raiders rushed for a combined 520 yards against Salisbury and Brown, but Northwest held them to 186.
South didn’t score in the first three quarters that night.
“We knew they were good,” Robinson coach Bobby Cloninger said. “We saw Kannapolis and Northwest film, and we felt like we saw two different teams from week to week. We knew they were going to come back and have their ducks in a row and be ready to play.”
Mason’s pick in the first two minutes helped the cause.
Senior linebacker John Davis delivered a big hit on receiver Chris Caldwell as Robert Cloninger’s pass arrived. The ball dropped into Mason’s hands, and Houston’s third-down option keeper resulted in a 40-yard touchdown.
“We all played our assignments, and ‘Little’ John stuck with his man,” Mason said. “He made a hit, and it landed in my hands. If it wasn’t for the hit, I would have never got that ball.”
Robinson (1-2) pulled within 7-6 thanks to an 11-play drive, and Houston fired a 7-yard TD pass to Quan Glaspy early in the second quarter.
Mark McDaniel’s 30-yard punt return enabled South to start its next possession at midfield, and Harris raced for a 40-yard touchdown.
The Bulldogs cut their deficit to 21-14 with a 1-yard sneak by Cloninger, and the Raiders scored late in the half.
Lowe’s 6-yard TD with 29 seconds left came two plays after a 34-yard gain by Harris, who took off near midfield and ran left before bumping into receiver Dylan Walker at the 40. Harris bounced to the right and advanced to Robinson’s 12.
“I got pushed into him,” Harris said. “I just opened my eyes again and saw my cutback to the other side.”
A three-and-out to start the second half forced South to punt for the first time, and it jumped ahead 35-14 on Houston’s 17-yard TD pass to B.J. Grant late in the third quarter.
Cloninger scrambled for a 53-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, and the Bulldogs moved inside South’s 20 in the closing minutes. Mason tackled Troy Parker for no gain on fourth down.
“We put the nail in the coffin on that one,” Mason said. “They sent me on a blitz and bam, I met up right with it.”