Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 21, 2013

CONCORD — It’s a good thing the word panic isn’t part of South Rowan’s vocabulary.
The Raiders’ vessel has been taking on water for four weeks now and nobody seems overly concerned.
“We keep getting better every week,” coach Jason Rollins said Friday night, moments after South was battered 34-13 at Concord. “We played a team like this — I think they’re what, eighth in the state in 3A? I’ll tell you what — we gave them everything they wanted and then some. We’re like gnats. We just keep coming after you.”
South enjoyed momentary bright spots on both sides of the ball. But at the end of the day the Raiders (0-4, 0-2) are still winless and trying to connect all the dots.
“We’re definitely making strides,” senior Derrick Blackwell said after rushing for 60 yards on a night when South totaled only 28 on the ground. “Whether it’s slow or fast, we’re still making strides. Eventually we’ll be on top.”
That may seem far-fetched at this juncture, but credit Rollins for seeing the good side of bad. He knows South’s recipe for success is going to take some time to brew.
“Coach Rollins is doing a great job,” CHS coach Glen Padgett said after the SPC-leading Spiders (4-0, 2-0) racked up 294 rushing yards. “The score is not really reflective of how tough they played us. They caused us a lot of problems.”
No one presented more of a problem to South than Concord running back Rocky Reid. The 210-pound junior practically engraved tire marks on SR’s defenders, running for 209 yards and an early, tone-setting touchdown. The game was less than two minutes old when he took a handoff from quarterback Keenan Black and raced 55 yards down the left sideline for the game’s opening score.
“I think that shocked us,” said South linebacker Burke Fulcher. “I mean, you’ve got to hold your gaps and hit him low. He was just quick. But we came back and adjusted throughout the game.”
South whittled its deficit to 7-6 late in the first quarter when Blackwell snagged a 21-yard TD pass from QB Aaron Kennerly on a screen to the left side. The drive followed a fumble recovery by Bryson Deaton — the first of four turnovers forced by SR’s defense.
Concord responded by scoring 27 unanswered points to mount a 34-6 fourth-quarter lead. Along the way Kennerly, who completed half of his 24 pass attempts for 147 yards, was sacked seven times by the Spiders’ man-eating defense.
“They were good at disguising the blitz,” said Kennerly.
“They were bringing the house. Sometimes when it’s eight against five, it’s a mismatch. What can you do?”
South closed the game on a positive note when it scored a last-minute touchdown. This time Kennerly found senior Tyler Fuller open for a 19-yard connection down the right sideline.
“It’s always good to get a touchdown regardless of the situation,” Blackwell said.
“That’s what we’ve got to do — play as a team, develop as a team and hold each other up as a a team.”