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Gallagher column: Running QBs make a difference

MOUNT ULLA — Before the season even began, West Rowan coach Scott Young said Zay Laster would give his team something it had never had at quarterback: a running threat.
The curious fans who ventured over to West Rowan Saturday got to see first- hand what a dual-threat quarterback can mean.
Laster and South Pointe’s Devin Pearson put on a show, although, Pearson’s lasted longer than Laster’s, thanks to a sprained ankle to the Falcon star in the second quarter.
Ask anyone on West’s side and Pearson, a 6-foot, 170-pound junior, was the difference in the Stallions’ 23-9 victory over the Falcons.
We chased him like crazy.” said defensive coordinator David Hunt.
The West defensive line played well and forced Pearson into many third-down situations.
“They have a good defensive line,” Pearson acknowledged.
“They’re strong and powerful and hard to run against,” South Pointe coach Strait Herron agreed.
That’s true. But when Pearson was at his best, he was jitterbugging, side-stepping and frustrating the Falcons. His 33-yard score was a perfect example. Wasn’t he tackled about three times on that run?
“On that quarterback scramble,” Hunt observed, “we missed three tackles.”
Actually, that’s one of the Stallions’ best plays.
“Sometimes,” Herron admitted, “our best running play is when we try throw a pass and let him take off.”

But Pearson wasn’t outshining Laster, who also used his legs effectively. He gave West a third running option, and just for good measure, he tossed a perfectly-thrown ball for a long touchdown to receiver Jarvis Morgan.
As the first quarter turned into the second, West was clicking. Dinkin Miller for 14 yards. Desmond Jackson for 12. Miller for 12 more. Then, Laster found a hole for a nice gain. But when he got up, there was a grimace on his face.
“Somebody bent me backwards and I just came down on it wrong,” Laster said, referring to his right ankle. “I felt it immediately.”
He spent the rest of the half on the sidelines with team doctor Dean Proctor.
“He’s in pain,” Proctor said at halftime, adding later it was a Grade 1 sprain. There was no apparent mobility.
“If someone’s coming at you and you can’t get out of the way, it’s hard to play,” Proctor said.
Laster’s day looked done.

But Laster appeared from a therapy session early in the third quarter, limping up the sidelines. He approached Young.
“I told him I felt like I could play,” Laster said. “I knew my teammates needed me. I felt like I had a little bit left in the tank.”
Down 17-7, Laster inspired his teammates, leading them to the one-yard line midway through the fourth quarter. A fumble into the end zone ended any drama.

Pearson and Laster drew some deserved raves.
“It makes a tremendous difference,” Young said of the running QB. “Pearson’s as good as advertised.”
“We did a pretty good job on everybody else,” Hunt said “(Pearson) beat us with his legs. He’s a super, super athlete.”
Proctor thinks Laster will play next week against Statesville. Will he?
“Definitely,” smiled Laster, who wants to prove West Rowan is better than it showed Saturday.
“Nothing against South Pointe, but I don’t think they’re two touchdowns better than us,” Laster said.
At least, they’re not when he’s on the field.

Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or rgallagher@salisburypost.com.

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