Prep Football: South Rowan 35, West Iredell 6
By Mike London
STATESVILLE ó There were plenty of empty seats at West Iredell’s Warrior Warfield on a cold Saturday afternoon, but South Rowan players and coaches still felt mighty warm and fuzzy inside.
The contest required 19 hours to complete, but the Raiders waded upstream through a river of yellow flags to beat West Iredell 35-6. The NPC game kicked off Friday, was postponed due to a power outage and finally completed Saturday.
“First time I’ve played on Saturday in a long time,” South linebacker Jacob Nance said. “It was like going back to my YFL days.”
The game threatened to last into Sunday. South was flagged 16 times for 152 yards in the second half. There were multiple unsportsmanlike conduct penalties as composure and concentration wavered a bit.
Senior QB Blake Houston broke Kevin Sides’ career total offense record set in 1995. Houston has accounted for 3,436 yards.
D’Andre Harris and Thomas Lowe both topped 100 yards rushing as the Raiders avenged a last-play loss to the Warriors (3-5, 1-3) in 2008.
“You probably heard how they beat us last year,” Nance said.
Well, sure, who hasn’t?
Long story shot. South blocked a field goal on the last play to preserve a lead. Warriors yell, “Fire.” West Iredell’s holder scoops up the ball and throws a TD pass. South loses, and the clouds of frustration from that debacle didn’t lift until the final second ticked off the clock yesterday at the Warfield.
Mark McDaniel blocked the PAT after West Iredell’s lone TD this time, lashing out at fate in his own way. Probably it was the most satisfying blocked kick in South history.
“We were gonna block one,” Rollins said. “No matter what.”
The key play Saturday was the first one. WI got its TD on the final play of the half on Friday and had momentum. There was 1:10 to play in the second quarter when play resumed with the Warriors kicking off, and coach Mark Weycker went with a surprise onside kick. The kick itself couldn’t have been executed better, drifting over the heads of South’s front row, then plopping unclaimed near the sideline in front of the next group of stunned Raiders, as Warriors raced for it.
South (6-2, 2-1) was fortunate two foes knocked the ball out of bounds.
“That’s the way it’s gone all year,” Weycker said. “We can draw it up perfectly, but we just can’t finish. Instead of playing football, we watched that ball bounce around.”
Houston made the Warriors pay with a scoring drive that beat the halftime horn. He hit tight end Madison Hobbs with a 20-yard TD pass on a drag route 11 seconds before halftime.
“Every time we’d brought two tights in, we’d run a basic iso so I guess we surprised them with the pass,” Houston said. “Madison was wide open, just standing their waiting on the ball.”
That play restored momentum to South’s side, and the Raiders got their offense humming, with good offensive-line work overcoming the flags. Houston was getting yards keeping, flipping short passes or pitching wide to Harris.
“The pitch wasn’t working all that well Friday, but we had that extra-long halftime to make an adjustment,” Rollins said with a laugh.
South’s defense pitched a second-half shutout. Linebacker John Davis had several solo tackles that limited West Iredell’s Division I prospect P.J. Clyburn to minimal gains after receptions.
“I just tried my best,” Davis said. “That guy is so fast, like lightning. When he got it, I felt like my feet were stuck in molasses.”
Lowe broke a basic iso play for 81 yards to cap the victory and had two short TD runs.
“Even though it took two days, it was worth it,” Lowe said.