Prep Football: East Rowan 30, Cox Mill 6
By David Shaw
CONCORD ó East Rowan hasn’t shown up an anybody’s radar screen, but it continues to stockpile wins.
The Mustangs improved to 4-1 Friday night with an unsightly 30-6 non-league victory at Cox Mill, a first-year school that will play in the South Piedmont Conference.
“We got it done,” East quarterback Jamey Blalock said. “That’s all that matters.”
ER coach Brian Hinson wasn’t exactly dancing a jig after the Mustangs had four turnovers against the infant Chargers (0-4), including fumbles on their first two possessions.
“Ugly football,” he said. “We may have been hard to read tonight. I think they took Cox Mill for granted. I think they thought they had an easy victory coming in and that’s the reason we got off to a sluggish start.”
East trailed 6-0 before the game was five minutes old. Cox Mill used a turnover by ER running back Chris Moore (15 carries, 102 yards) on the East 45-yard line to set up its only score. A 22-yard bootleg by sophomore quarterback Arrick Hincher gave the hosts a first down on the East 21 before Jhaquille Hankerson eluded a couple of would-be tacklers on his way into the end zone.
“We missed some assignments,” defensive end Jesse Meismer said. “After that we knew we needed to buckle down and stay motivated.”
It took the Mustangs until the second quarter to snap out of their funk. They did so quickly and convincingly, scoring a pair of TDs less than a minute apart early in the period and striking again with 1:48 remaining in the half. Blalock’s 19-yard spiral to Riley Weber set the stage for barrel-chested fullback Dominique Simpson, who bulldozed over the goal line from the 18 to tie the score just 16 seconds into the second quarter. Evan Hiatt, who later recovered a fumble for East, added a two-point conversion.
The game’s most important play came on the ensuing kickoff, when East’s Jordan Hopper recovered a fumble at the Cox Mill 29. Three plays later it became 16-6 when Moore stumbled into the end zone on a 21-yard run ó his second touchdown of the season.
“The offensive line had just gotten chewed out, so they were ready to go,” Blalock reported after throwing two TD passes and two interceptions. “On both touchdowns, the running backs made good reads and hit the holes. We all needed to wake up because we were embarrassed early.”
East took a 23-7 halftime lead just before the break. This time Weber scored on a 74-yard TD pass, though he sprinted the last 40 down the right sideline.
“That was really one of our trick plays,” said Weber, a first-year senior who caught two balls for 93 yards. “A vertical slant to the sideline, but the (defender) didn’t bite on it. Jamey said he got hit on the play and just had to get rid of it. It had to be a perfect ball and it was.”
The Mustangs finished with 310 total yards, 205 of them on the ground. Defensively, they forced three turnovers and made four pivotal fourth-down stops to thwart Cox Mill drives. The last two were fourth-and-goal situations just inside the 10-yard line.
“We should have come out and put it on them,” said East linebacker Quentin Sifford. “But we didn’t and they took advantage. Now we start the conference. I don’t think we’ll come out like we did tonight. We learned our lesson.”n
NOTES: East will bring a three-game winning streak into its NPC opener next week against West Iredell.