Prep Football: North Iredell 17, East Rowan 9
By David Shaw
GRANITE QUARRY ó Itís official. The rest of the NPC doesnít have to worry about East Rowan anymore.
The Mustangs were mathematically eliminated from the playoff race Friday when they suffered a 17-9 homecoming night loss to North Iredell.
ěThatís it. We donít have a chance,î senior Kyler Brown said after East (0-8, 0-2) lost a game it had a decent shot at winning. ěFor me itís devastating. It feels like the end of the world.î
Donít blame Brown. The wide receiver caught four passes for 83 yards ó all in the fourth quarter as East staged a ferocious comeback. It fell short when Jordan Phillips snagged a 25-yard pass from East quarterback Noah Drye on the gameís final play, then was wrestled to the ground on the North 15-yard line.
ěIt was a good game for spectators but a bad game for us,î ER coach Chad Tedder said outside the tranquil Mustangsí locker room. ěI hate to sound like a broken record, but again we gave up big plays when we least could afford to. Bottom line, itís a game we had to win and didnít. Unless something happens and thereís a three-way tie for fourth (place), the playoffs are out of the question.î
Winning coach Chris Davidson had kind words for East and said his team essentially fed the Mustangs a glass of their own Kool-Aid.
ěWhen we watched them on film this week, we said, ěHey, they look just like us,íî Davidson said after the Warriors (2-6, 1-1) were outgained 310-281. ěWeíre both teams that tend to shoot ourselves in the foot.î
East fired the first volley and took a 2-0 lead before the game was four-minutes old. Following a high snap from center, NI quarterback Jacob Queen kicked a loose ball out of the end zone for a safety. ěWe got excited early,î said linebacker Tyler Líhommedieu. ěBut in the end it was little things that beat us. Penalties, big plays and big plays by them. It was a game we could have won.î
North turned its second possession into an eight-play scoring drive ó one that featured four East penalties, three of them for jumping offsides.
ěWe havenít had an offsides penalty all season,î Tedder lamented. ěAnd we got three in one series, by three different people.î
North went up 7-2 when Queen spiraled a picture-perfect 28-yard TD pass to Kemuel Brown with 4:22 remaining in the first quarter. After Troy Mitchellís 47-yard field goal made it 10-2, East had a chance to pull even late in the first half. But on fourth-and-goal from the 2, running back Corey Darrah was stuffed just short of the goal line.
ěI looked down at Corey and started jumping up,î ERís Brown said. ěI thought he was in. I thought his arms and the ball crossed into the end zone.î
The officials didnít ó and East was sent to its locker room trailing by eight. North used the break to tinker with its engine ó and though Davidson wouldnít reveal too much, he indicated the Warriors discussed a few blocking adjustments. ěWe just tweeked what we had been doing,î he said.
It worked magnificently. On its first series of the second half, NI was facing third-and-5 from its own 17 when Brown took a handoff, leveled a linebacker and found a gulf-sized seam up the middle. Eighty-three yards later it was a 17-2 game. ěJust a good play call by them,îLíhommedieu said.
Tedder disagreed. ěThat was a big play and just a bad, bad thing overall,î he said. ěWe had all of eggs in one basket, thinking they were gonna right off tackle. Instead he busted one up the gut.î
East drew within 17-9 late in the third quarter when sophomore Calvin Edwards (8 carries, 81 yards) scored on a 3-yard run. Later Drye completed three passes on the gameís final drive before time expired.
ěThat last drive, that was probably the most fun Iíve had playing football,î the sophomore said after passing for a career-best 143 yards. ěI felt like I was on Cloud Nine.î
NOTES: East closes its season with games at South Rowan and at home against Statesville, but itís the equivalent of running out an infield popup. Brianna Brinkley was named ERís homecoming queen and a new mascot, ěMojo the Mustang,î was unveiled.