Prep Football Playoffs: Havelock 27, East Rowan 7
By Jess Huffman
HAVELOCK ó The Havelock football team arrived late to its own party Friday night.
After a scoreless first half, sophomore Andy Keel returned the opening kickoff of the third quarter 85 yards for a touchdown, and the Rams began rolling. Havelock advanced to the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 1988 with a 27-7 win over East Rowan.
We played a very good football team,” said East Rowan coach Brian Hinson, who watched the Mustangs’ dream season end at 9-4. “They’re not 12-1 for no reason.”
East’s defense stopped the talented Havelock offense throughout the first half and the teams went into the locker room scoreless.
“I thought we played very well in the first half,” Hinson said.
Havelock coach Jim Bob Bryant seemed stunned.
“In the first half, I don’t know who those guys were out here, but it wasn’t Havelock,” Bryant said. “That’s what I told them at halftime. I said, ‘If you’re going to win this football game, Havelock needs to show up in the second half.”
Indeed, Havelock (12-1) arrived for the opening kickoff of the third quarter and stayed for the remainder of the game. The Rams forced two turnovers and gained 156 rushing yards in the second half.
“Two of their touchdowns came off special teams mistakes we made,” Hinson said. “The third, we put them in good field position because one of our offensive linemen had a big penalty, adn we had to put the ball in the air.
Senior running back Andretti George’s 58-yard touchdown run with 6:53 remaining sealed the win for the Rams, who advance to play second-seeded Hertford County (13-0) Friday.
“Andretti has been running the ball hard all year long for us, in between the tackles and on the stretch play,” Bryant said. “I’m glad he transferred back here (from Croatan). He’s been a big part of our offense.”
East Rowan (9-4) answered George’s TD run with a big run of its own, when Quentin Sifford broke free for a 34-yard dash to the end zone. Sifford finished with a team-high 110 rushing yards.
The Mustangs were coming off an emotional overtime win last week, in which they picked up their first playoff victory in 12 years.
“They bought into the program,” East Rowan coach Brian Hinson said. “And they did things at East Rowan that nobody thought was possible this year.”
Havelock quarterback Danny Webster Jr. finished with 108 rushing yards. He intercepted a pass midway through the third quarter, which set up his 8-yard scoring run with 5:46 remaining in the period. Tylor Cooper’s extra point gave the Rams a 14-0 lead.
Early in the fourth quarter, Webster connected with tight end Dillon Post for a 4-yard touchdown pass, extending Havelock’s lead to 20 points. George’s game-sealing TD run came less than 4 minutes later.
“The first half, I don’t think we were into it like we were supposed to be,” George said. “We got talked to at halftime. Coach said he didn’t want to see us playing like we were in the first half.”
George ran for a game-high 134 yards, 114 of which came in the second half.
The Mustangs gained 153 of their 245 rushing yards in the first half. Quarterback Jamey Blalock had 84 yards on the ground by halftime.
Hinson was asked what this season meant to him as brought East Rowan back to prominence.
“It doesn’t matter what it meant to me, to be honest,” he said. “It matters what it meant to these seniors. They put in a lot of work these last four year, and they’ve changed the tide of East Rowan football.”