Prep Football: South Rowan 14, North Iredell 7
By Marny Hendrick
OLIN — For most of the game the South Rowan Raiders relied on the passing arm of Nathan Lambert. In the end, however, it was the quarterback’s clutch running play that gave his team their first victory of 2011.
Lambert, a junior signal caller, ran a draw play up the middle from 7 yards out with just 1:32 left to play, giving South a 14-7 win over conference foe North Iredell Friday night.
The two Raider teams came into the North Piedmont conference game with just one win between them and giving up about 40 points per game each. All indications pointed to a high scoring shootout.
What the homecoming crowd at North Iredell witnessed however, was a dramatic defensive chess match that was not decided until the final two minutes.
“I honestly thought it would be a higher scoring game,“ winning coach Jason Rollins said, “But our defense responded tonight. Anytime this team holds an opponent to just seven points, it is a big accomplishment.”
Each team scored in the second quarter then proceeded to waste one opportunity after another to keep it knotted at 7-7. South almost broke through early in the 4th when they drlve 83 yards to the North 3. But two incomplete passes turned the ball over on downs.
Lambert, who completed 16 passes to 7 different receivers for 228 yards, got his team untracked for the winning drive with 5:09 left to play. He used an array of screen passes and scrambles to move the Raiders 81 yards in 12 plays, using up almost all of the clock in the process. Avoiding intense defensive pressure, Lambert completed key passes to Josh Medlin and Dominique Garlin and scrambled for runs of 15 and 8 yards to put the ball down on the North 7.
On the next play from the shotgun, Lambert executed the quarterback draw to perfection for the game winning touchdown.
“I told coach that the draw was there and he let me run it,” Lambert said, “It gave us a win and a lot of confidence going forward.”
South (1-6) sealed the win on the next offensive snap when defensive back Brandon Williams picked off Jacob Queen’s pass and returned it 13 yards to the North 27. It capped off an impressive second half for Williams who sat our last week’s game and half of this one due to disciplinary reasons. When he finally got into the fray, he caught 3 passes for 62 yards, provided a couple of crushing blocks and made the key pick at the end.
Coach Rollins was glad to have him back on the field. “Brandon made a big difference,” he said. “He is a senior and he wants to lead and that is just what he did.”
South also got big contributions from linebacker Bubba McLaughlin and defensive lineman Rell Howie to keep North Iredell at bay. Josh Medlin, also came up with a big interception of a Queen pass in the end zone at the end of the second quarter to preserve the tie.
North Iredell (1-6) did draw first blood on a big play in the second quarter when Queen threw a flat pass to halfback Kemuel Brown who proceed untouched down the left sideline for a 61 yard scoring play. South responded quickly as Lambert hit Garlin on passes of 17 and 12 yards to put the ball down at the two. Eric Tyler finished the drive with a TD dive from the two to knot the score at 7-7.
North Iredell’s first year coach Chris Davidson lamented the close loss for his young team. “South did a great job of capitalizing on our mistakes,” he said. “My big concern now is keeping this team focused and together so we can continue to build our program.”
His Raiders will get the chance next week when they come over to Rowan to face the East Mustangs. South faces rival Carson with hopes of building a winning streak.