Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 5, 2013

HARRISBURG — A season of high hopes has suddenly turned into a series of frustrating losses for the East Rowan Mustangs.
Hickory Ridge baffled the Mustangs with their deceptive option offense most of the night Friday and cruised to a surprisingly easy 35-21 South Piedmont Conference win. Running backs Nate Mullen and Romello Barnett each scored twice while sophomore quarterback Greg Waslo directed the attack that put the Ragin’ Bulls ahead 29-0 by the end of the third period.
East (1-3, 2-4) found some offensive life in the second half with a trio of touchdowns but the deficit was too great as they dropped their third game in a row. The Bulls (1-3, 2-5) snapped their own three game skid in an decisive fashion.
In the aftermath, the Mustangs spent an extended time in a post-game huddle with senior defensive star Dock Corpening and Coach Danny Misenheimer addressing the team in an emotional and emphatic way.
“It is frustrating,” Misenhiemer commented later, “but we have to do better. The thing is that there are a lot of kids who are doing things the right way but as a team, as a unit, we are just not getting it done.”
East severely hampered their chances with a whopping 16 penalties for 113 yards that enabled the Bulls to keep drives alive.
Hickory Ridge took control from the outset with an opening 67 yard drive capped by a 30 yard TD strike from Waslo to Mullen. After an exchange of interceptions, the Ragin Bulls then embarked on a clock eating 16 play drive, covering 76 yards, that featured two fourth down conversions. Barnett dove in from the two then a two point conversion run by Kyle Tyson made it 15-0 early in the second period.
The score quickly went to 22-0 when the option running of Waslo and a face mask penalty set up Barnett for another two yard TD run with seven minutes left in the half.
Twice during the same period the Mustangs were stopped on fourth down conversion attempts in Bull territory.
“We just can’t seem to do those little things that are keeping us from reaching our goal,” Misenheimer said.
Waslo built the lead to 29-0 midway in the third with a 24 yard keeper on the option. East responded when quarterback Wyrick scored from the 19. But the Bulls marched 68 yards on the next drive with Mullen taking a direct snap and sprinting 13 yards for a 35-7 lead.
East opened the final period with a 21 yard TD pass from Wyrick to his brother Seth to make it 35-14. They closed out the scoring late in the period as Wyrick passed the Mustangs down the field then fullback Jake Boltz scored from the one.
The Ragin Bulls then used their running game to wind down the clock and secure the key win. They dominated on the ground with 54 carries and 286 yards led by Mullen (135), Waslo (98) and Barnett (68 yards).
“That’s what we do and that’s why we are able to move the ball,” winning coach Marty Paxton said of his option attack. “We do a lot of misdirection and a lot of hiding the football. Obviously we are estatic to win.”
East will try to right the ship with a trip to NW Cabarrus next Friday.
“We absolutely can fix this,” Misenhimer stated, “We are not a bad team but we need to fix the little things”