MT. ULLA — A victory over the state’s sixth-ranked team would have had a nice ring to it.
Unfortunately, West Rowan was facing unbeaten Concord at home Friday night. And the Spiders just happen to have a spectacular running back in junior Rocky Reid, who just happen to score three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to assure a 24-13 SPC win.
“A win tonight would have made our season and corrected all the wrongs,” losing coach Scott Young said after West (5-4, 3-3) dropped a home game to a North Carolina opponent for the first time since the 2007 season-finale. “I’m disappointed with the result but I’m not mad at our guys. If we had played that quality of ball all year long, we’d have a better record and we’d be a lot happier.”
There was much to applaud in Falconland. Through three quarters West’s seek-and-destroy defense had shackled Reid, limiting the evasive, inside-outside runner to 52 yards and no end zone appearances.
And when quarterback Harrison Baucom capped a short-field drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge late in the third period, the Falcons owned a 7-6 lead.
“We knew we were in a battle,” CHS coach Glen Padgett said after the Spiders (9-0, 7-0) clinched the conference title. “I’m just glad we found a way to get it down. That’s kind of what we’ve been doing all year.”
And though Reid finished with 127 yards on 25 attempts — thanks to a fourth quarter field day — Padgett had high praise for WR’s defense. “West Rowan has got a great football team,” he said. “That’s the best run-defense we’ve seen all year.”
The final quarter began with West ahead and Concord stalled on the Falcons’ 30-yard line. But on fourth-and-18 quarterback Keenan Black was protected for six or seven seconds before completing a short, left-side screen to Cody Murdock, who turned the play into a 28-yard gain down the sideline.
“I thought we had a good chance of pulling it out,” said West linebacker Nick Collins. “But that play really hurt us.”
One snap later Reid gave Concord the lead with a signature burst into the end zone. Another pivotal play came on the ensuing kickoff, a pooch/onsides kick that Concord recovered in West territory. The Falcons seemed confused and surprised and failed to cover the ball when they had a clear chance.
“A kid just froze and didn’t make the play,” Young reported.
Added Collins: “Our second row didn’t come get the ball. If they had it might have been a different ballgame.”
Concord cashed in on the mistake — but not after West had it pinned in once again. This time the Spiders were facing third-and-27 from their own 49 with about 10 minutes to play. Black rescued them with a clutch 36-yard completion to Murdock. Reid took a handoff on the next play and slammed into the middle of West’s DL, bounced it outside and scored on a 15-yard scoot over the right side — providing an 18-7 lead.
“I think we showed that any good running back can be shut down,” said West lineman Teoz Mauney. “We showed that Rocky and (Kenny) Purvis (of Central Cabarrus) cand be stopped if you just beat the man in front of you.”
West crept within 18-13 when Baucom hit Devin Parks with a 31-yard touchdown pass with 2:36 remaining. The Falcons nearly got a chance to win as the final minute unspooled, but again Reid spoiled the party. On fourth-and-inches against West’s 11-man rush, he exploded past the line of scrimmage and raced 58 yards for a game-clinching TD.
“We sold the house on that one,” Young said. “We knew if he got past the line, there’d be no catching him. We threw everything at them, including the kitchen sink, and he punctured us.”
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