Prep Football: Hickory Ridge 35, East Rowan 14

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 9, 2011

By Josh Hoke
HUNTERSVILLE ó Hickory Ridge had a long wait to finally play its first home game of the 2011 campaign.
And teenagers are a notoriously impatient demographic.
ěThey were itching,î Hickory Ridge coach Marty Paxton said after a 35-14 win over East Rowan Friday. ěLast Friday they were ready to go, and then they had to sit through Monday. Sometimes you worry about it Öî
But the Ragin’ Bulls, whose original home opener against Carson was postponed and then eventually canceled on Labor Day after foul weather disrupted the start for a second time, dispelled any concerns early against the Mustangs. Boasting a ball control offense and an impenetrable defense, Hickory Ridge led 35-0 at halftime and cruised to its second straight win in the series.
East Rowan’s struggling offense didn’t cross the 50-yard line until after the break and didn’t manage a score until midway through the fourth quarter. The Mustangs (0-4) did have some bright moments, including Calvin Edwards’ 51-touchdown catch and run in the game’s final minute, but it wasn’t enough to offset the frustrations of coach Chad Tedder.
ěThe first half was terrible,î he said. ěThe first half was how we played against Salisbury. It was how we played against Concord. And the first half was about how we played against North Rowan. We just didn’t turn the ball over as much. We came off the bus flat, and we played flat.
ěWe won the second half. I felt good about that, but it’s one of those things. Until the attitude changes around here and they believe in themselves, their teammates and the system, the first half is going to be like that.î
The Mustangs have been hindered by an impotent offense all season, and the unit didn’t find a rhythm until it was much too late Friday. They rushed 14 times for just one yard, completed just two passes for 10 yards and committed five penalties for 52 yards in the first half.
East Rowan’s lone bright spot in the first half was the play of punter Jantzen Stirewalt, who got plenty of work, punting four times for an average of 39 yards per kick. But even his ability to flip the field couldn’t slow a Hickory Ridge offense that averaged 5.5 yards per rush and passed for 85 first-half yards.
A 72-yard, opening drive was capped by a 13-yard touchdown pass from Ragin’ Bulls quarterback Nick Tyson to receiver Dalen Helm. The lead was 14-0 after Trent Jordan’s two-yard run, 21-0 after Tyson’s four-yard run and 28-0 on Helm’s second touchdown catch, a two-yarder with 3:20 left in the first half. Otis Robinson’s 24-yard interception return for a score on the ensuing drive just rubbed salt in the wound.
ěWe actually came out and moved the football pretty well,î Paxton said. ěWe were able to be pretty balanced. Ö Overall, I’m happy.î
Tedder was happy with his team’s response after the break. He challenged his Mustangs at halftime, and they responded by holding Hickory Ridge to just 59 yards.
ěI give credit to my kids,î he said. ěThe ones that played in the second half didn’t give up. Ö The offense scored twice on some pretty good looking plays. They had their first team in there in the third quarter and part of the fourth. And our defense stopped them.î
East Rowan quarterback Jordan Phillips, who threw a touchdown and ran for another, said the Mustangs’ second-half effort should give them some confidence moving forward.
ěWe didn’t come out ready,î he said. ěWe got woken up [at halftime]. We did great. We won the second half. We’ve just got to come out pumped up all week and carry it through Monday to Friday. We’re winning games. I know that. We’re winning games.î