Prep Football: Statesville 30, East Rowan 0
By Marny Hendrick
GRANITE QUARRY — In the end, a group of 14 East Rowan seniors trotted out to midfield and left their helmets on the Mustang logo for one last time.
There was a lot of emotion, in part due to a 30-0 season ending loss to Statesville High, but primarily due to the realization that this was their last time together as teammates.
“It was a such a great experience” defensive lineman Casey Padgett said of his Mustang career. “I would not want to play for any other team anywhere.”
Offensive lineman Nick Cordts had a similar view as his career at East ended. “I would not trade this for anything. We made a family here.”
It was not a great swan song for the Mustangs (1-9, 1-5), as they had no answer for a swarming Greyhound defense and no luck trying to stop multi-talented quarterback Tristan Mumford.
Statesville (5-4-1, 4-1 NPC) stuffed East, holding the Mustangs to two first downs and a net minus-4 yards for the night. Meanwhile Mumford, a junior ran for three touchdowns and passed for another as he racked up 219 passing yards and 105 rushing yards all by himself.
“Our defense really played well tonight” said Greyhounds head coach Randall Gusler. “We were coming off a bad night last week (a loss to Alexander Central) so we had a point to prove.”
The Greyhounds sacked East quarterback Jonathan Lowe four times; stuffed talented runner Calvin Edwards for minus-2 yards; recorded a safety; blocked two field goals and held East twice on downs in the first period when the game was still up for grabs. Defensive tackle Stewart Sherrill led the assault with two of the sacks and a blocked field goal.
“They have a good defensive front and bring a lot of pressure,” said East coach Chad Tedder. “We had our chances to score but just couldn’t get it done.”
Coming off their only win last Friday, a shutout of South Rowan, the Mustangs were hampered when starting quarterback Noah Drye was unable to play due to an injured shoulder.
Lowe stepped in and started well, but the Statesville defense soon took command. East surprised Statesville with an onsides kick to open the game as Jantzen Stirewalt recovered at the Greyhound 48. Edwards ran the ball five times to the 30 but on 4th-and- 2, he was dropped for a loss. East got the ball right back on a fumble recovery by Madison Hedrick at the 36, but a third down sack forced a punt.
Mumford followed with his first TD run, a 45-yard sprint up the middle with 4:07 left in the first period. East countered with some nice runs by Corey Darrah to reach the Greyhound 41 but again they were stopped on a fourth-down conversion try.
Mumford expanded the lead to 14-0 with a 1-yard score early in the second quarter. The Greyhound defense then got in on the act thanks to a booming 42-yard Cam Turner punt that was downed at the East 1. On the next play, Edwards mishandled a pitch in the end zone and was swarmed by Torrie Sharpe for a safety.
Statesville essentially put the game away just before halftime with a three play 58 yard drive that took just 24 seconds. Mumford threw a perfect lob in the left end zone to Brevin Renwick from 25 yards out and a 23-0 lead.
The second half belonged to the defenses as East held the Greyhounds to just one more score but were unable to capitalize on a couple of golden opportunities of their own. A muffed punt by Statesville set East up at the 4, but a penalty forced a field goal try that was blocked.
Mumford scored from 16 yards out early in the fourth to close out the scoring at 30-0. East then got a big 55 yard-interception return from Dalton Bost to set up shop at the Statesville 15. But three plays netted only 3 yards and a 35-yard field goal was blocked by Stewart.
Tedder praised his defense for a strong second half, especially citing linebacker Tyler L’hommedieu, cornerback Bost and big tackle Padgett for their efforts.
So what now for Tedder as his season has prematurely ended? “I am just going to take a little time off and rest,” he said. “Then we will get right back at it.”
Despite losing 12 outstanding seniors, East will return nine starters on defense and most of their improving offense. Spring practice is just around the corner.