Prep Football: East Montgomery 23, North Rowan 20
By Ryan Bisesi
BISCOE — It was Monday night, but the Cavaliers weren’t ready for some football.
An oddly-placed conference tilt at East Montgomery got the week off on the wrong foot for North Rowan in a 23-20 loss.
Three turnovers in the opening 6:14, including a fumble at the East 1-yard line, were too much to overcome. A variety of mistakes in the first quarter included the fumble, an interception and a muffed punt that set up the Eagles’ first touchdown.
“Those are mistakes we can’t afford,” North coach Tasker Fleming said.
East looked out of sync at times as well, but used trickery on multiple occasions. The best example was a hook-and-ladder pass to go up 22-14 with 8:41 left. Quarterback Avery Jackson flipped it to tight end Cameron Talbert who pitched it to Cord Steele as Steele ran untouched into the end zone for a 20-yard pass.
“Every team has something up their sleeve,” East coach Anthony Timmons said. “Coaches called the right play at the right time.”
“They ran eight trick plays tonight and seven of them worked,” Fleming said.
The game that was moved back from Friday due to rain saw East get big nights on the ground from Steele and Santrel Durham. Steele was the game’s leading rusher with 115 yards on 24 carries. Durham battled a leg injury for much of the game and settled for 73 yards on eight touches. Durham found the end zone twice and Steele did once.
The Cavs cut to within 16-14 and 23-20 in the final quarter. After taking over at the East 48 with just over three minutes to play, a holding call put the Cavs 10 yards back and they didn’t recover. On fourth-and-10, Johnny Oglesby tried to duplicate the magic of earlier 38 and 41-yard runs, but was stopped at the line of scrimmage to end North’s hopes.
“The second time, we saw it coming,” Timmons said. “He’s putting his athletes out in space and saying ‘Try to tackle us.’”
East (3-2, 2-0) recovered the mishandled punt at the North 16 and scored three plays later on a five-yard sprint from Durham.
Down 6-0, North’s Eugene Coney picked up a fumble from Jackson and took it to the East 19. The Cavs were one yard away on second-and-goal when T.J. Allen lost his grip and East came up with a huge break.
Oglesby went 38 yards on a reverse run to tie the game at 6 late in the first quarter.
The deadlock didn’t last. Steele went for 35 yards to get East within striking distance and Durham scurried 28 on the next play to find the end zone to give the Eagles the lead for keeps. Luis Rodriguez kicked a 21-yard field goal to make it 16-6 at halftime.
Xavier Robinson, who finished with 97 yards on 19 carries for North, ended the opening drive of the second half with a two-yard TD spurt. Tyler Watlington caught the two-point conversion to make it 16-14.
On East’s ensuing drive, North lineman Justin Ogg snared an interception on a short pass over the middle. The Cavs’ following possession went to fourth down and East’s Deprice Bowden returned the favor with a pick of his own to kill North’s momentum.
North (1-5, 0-2), the defending YVC champs, sit winless in the league with five games left. The Cavs desperately need a win against North Moore Friday to stay in the conversation for the conference.
“We got plenty of football left in our schedule and with the watered down playoffs, we’ll be in,” Fleming said. “We did some good things tonight with the running game. We have to work on guiding our attitudes.”
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