Prep Football: South Pointe 23, West Rowan 9

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 10, 2011

By Mike London
MOUNT ULLA — West Rowan threw three picks, muffed a punt and lost a fumble at the South Pointe goal line.
West’s five turnovers keyed South Pointe’s 23-9 victory on Saturday afternoon in Mount Ulla.
“We made more miscues and they made more plays,” subdued West coach Scott Young said.
Big plays by South Pointe’s marvelous skill-position athletes negated the bruising victories West’s fierce linemen won in the trenches on both sides of the ball. The husky guys wearing 60s and 70s decide most games. Saturday’s struggle was an exception to the rule.
“I was disappointed we couldn’t hold our blocks longer and didn’t hit holes faster, but West Rowan has a tremendous defensive line,” South Pointe coach Strait Herron said. “We’re used to playing finesse teams with spread offenses, so we knew this would be something different. We told our kids they had be prepared for physical, smashmouth football.”
It’s what they got.
Nine South Pointe running plays crashed backwards, caved in by swarming Falcons. Three more plays were stopped for no gain.
Except for one perfectly executed trick play in the first quarter — running back Manzey Miller fired a surprise 47-yard scoring pass to Montay Crockett — South Point’s offense hung exclusively on the shoulders of elusive QB Devin Pearson.
“We thought that halfback pass would work because the film they had of us would show us as a running team,” Herron said. “But mostly it was just Pearson today. He saved us.”
Pearson spun right and fluttered left, darting through 6-inch-wide slivers with Falcons pawing and clawing at him. He managed 77 rushing yards in 22 carries — Superman numbers. An average QB would’ve been sacked 10 times for minus 70. He moved the chains often enough to let SP’s defense catch its breath.
“Defensively, we’re playing lights out in the middle,” Young said. “But teams are still attacking the edge on some. That’s one of the things we’ve got to firm up.”
One of Pearson’s rushes was a tackle-breaking 33-yard sideline journey for a TD in the second quarter that erased a 7-6 West lead.
“All the props in the world to their quarterback,” said disappointed West d-lineman Trey Shepherd. “He’s very quick. Just a great athlete.”
West’s offense was hampered by an injury to QB Zay Laster on a scramble on the first play of the second quarter. Laster (ankle) missed the rest of the half and all of the third quarter, but he was able to return for the fourth.
Laster and tailbacks Dinkin Miller and Desmond Jackson teamed for 12 rushing plays of 10 or more yards, and the Falcons powered for 239 yards on the ground.
“We had a good surge all day,” West lineman Hunter Mashburn said. “We kept the ball moving, but then we’d have a penalty or a turnover. As an offense, we made mistakes that can’t happen.”
West scored late in the first quarter on a 31-yard pass from Laster to Jarvis Morgan, and Hobie Proctor’s PAT gave West a 7-6 edge.
Pearson’s sensational TD — followed by his own two-point conversion — gave the Stallions a 14-7 halftime lead.
Tay Hicklin intercepted a Connor Edwards pass and returned it to the West 33 to set up a field goal by Logan Ard that stretched South Pointe’s lead to 17-7 with 5:47 left in the third.
Penalties derailed a couple of West chances, but an athletic pick by Harvey Landy in the opening minute of the fourth quarter gave the Falcons some momentum.
“They had beaten me deep once,” Landy said. “I couldn’t let it happen again.”
Laster returned to the huddle and directed a physical march from the West 22 to first-and-goal at the SP 1. Jackson was denied on first down. On second down, fullback Mack Flanagan, making his first carry of the day, lost the handle right at the goal line. The tireless Hicklin, going both ways, made the pivotal recovery for South Pointe with 8:56 remaining.
“That play was the change-maker,” Herron said.
With 5:09 left, JaRyan Jennings picked off a Laster aerial and made a 40-yard, weaving dash to the right pylon for the clinching TD. Leaping up and down, Herron, raced down the sideline with him.
“This is a great win for our program,” Herron said. “I don’t want to sound cocky, but we are confident. We’ll play anyone, anywhere.”