Prep Football: Carson 42, South Rowan 27
By Mike London
LANDIS — Carson’s Myquon Stout flung South Rowan QB Nathan Lambert as if he were a discus, producing a safety and putting the exclamation point on the Cougars’ 42-27 NPC win over their rival.
That sack was the eighth by the Cougars at Donnell Stadium on Friday night. Nick Martin, Jeremiah Smith and T.J. Smith were in on multiple sacks. Patrick Ratliff laid some painful hits.
“You know they’re going to throw it, so the gameplan was to go hard, to bring pressure every snap and to be very physical,” Jeremiah Smith explained. “We wanted to make them use a backup QB.”
Lambert, who got off 35 passes, survived, although he took a beating. In between sacks, he threw for 195 yards. He twice hit Josh Medlin for touchdowns and he also found Drew Glenn for a score.
“Nathan’s just very tough and he and Josh were great just like they’ve been all year,” South junior Eric Tyler said. “They kept us in it a long time. We just got in a quick hole and couldn’t catch up.”
Carson coach Mark Woody wanted to put South in that hole and succeeded — mostly by trusting his sophomore QB Austin McNeill, who matched Lambert’s three TD passes.
“I’ve kind of held Austin back the last few games, but I knew we’d need to throw it some tonight,” Woody said. “I challenged our receivers to go out there and make some plays for him — and they did.”
It was a night with both positives ($1,000 raised by the teamwork of the schools for cancer research) and negatives (they also teamed for 33 combined penalties for an amazing 346 yards).
Most of those penalties forced a group huddle by the officials, as the game dragged deep into the night. South (1-7, 1-3) had 141 yards in penalties before the second-half kickoff. Carson bore the brunt of the flags in the second half.
Another concern was an injury to South lineman Andrew Mauldin that required an ambulance to transport him from the field.
Brandon Sloop rushed for 162 yards for the Cougars, 136 in the second half.
“It was intense out there, but I like that,” the freshman said. “I thought it was a really fun atmosphere.”
Carson (3-4, 2-1) would’ve had 500 yards of offense, except for a minus-22 on a mishap on a punting attempt.
Carson’s first offensive snap produced a 53-yard TD pass from McNeill to K.J. Pressley.
Carson also scored quickly on its second possession, taking a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter on a McNeill pass to Ben Gragg.
“Our offensive line did a great job,” McNeill said. “I had open receivers and I was able to give them a chance to make some big plays for us.”
Travis Abbitt (97 rushing yards) scored Carson’s third TD following Will Zentmeyer’s recovery of a scrambling Lambert’s fumble, but when Lambert hit Medlin for a 25-yard TD with 2:33 left in the first half, South trailed 21-12.
South was in the game at that point, but the Raiders not only failed to score late in the half, they handed the ball back to Carson with enough time to do damage. Then they helped the Cougars move down the field with silly penalties.
McNeill’s 23-yard scoring pass to Pressley — he outwrestled Dominique Garlin for the ball in the end zone — came just 15 seconds before halftime. That made it 27-12, and that was the dagger.
South moved the ball well in the second half and Bubba McLaughlin came up with a fumble recovery at the South 1 to keep the Raiders in the game, but South never could score back-to-back.
“I still thought we had guys accepting responsibilities on both sides of the ball for the first time,” South coach Jason Rollins said. “The fourth quarter tonight, we weren’t just trying to get out of there. We were still fighting hard, trying to win a football game.”
Woody was upbeat about the way his team bounced back from a disheartening NPC loss to Statesville.
“I’m just glad we were able to jump on ’em early,” he said. “The Lambert kid can throw the ball, but we were able to bring some pressure on him.”