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Raiders bitten by Spiders

LANDIS — The most telling compliment South Rowan’s football team received Friday night didn’t come from an administrator, coach or spectator. It came from the best player on the field.
“They made it tougher than it should have been,” Concord’s Rocky Reid said after the fifth-ranked Spiders earned a 35-21 SPC victory. “They were very good defensively. Their front three were really tough.”
Reid nonetheless made it look easy against the upstart Raiders (2-2, 1-1), rushing for 215 yards and four touchdowns. He scored on a pair of short runs in the first half, then opened the second with a 70-yard TD romp that put the visitors ahead 21-0.
“Those things are gonna happen to everybody,” SR coach Jason Rollins said. “I don’t care who they’re playing. He’s not going to Tennessee for nothing. And when he gets open on the outside edge, he’s really dangerous. He’s going to break and make big plays — and he’s going to do that the rest of the year.”
Reid’s showcase performance overshadowed the awakening of South’s offense in the fourth quarter. While its running game remained stagnant — South finished with just one yard rushing — its passing game blossomed.
“The problem we were having,” said junior quarterback Heath Barringer, “was not getting any yards after the catch. The line protected, we threw the ball and we caught it. But we’d get hit right away.”
Barringer completed 14 of 23 attempts for 164 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Most adventurous was the 63-yard TD he threw to wideout Travis Littlejohn on a broken play with 10:03 remaining.
“We had the play-action right, but the receiver on the back side ran the wrong way,” said Barringer. “It was supposed to be a crossing play, but that never happened. It was a busted play that worked out in our favor.”
It worked because Barringer stayed alive for some 10 seconds, rolling out to his right until Littlejohn found an open space in the unmanned Concord secondary.
“Our receivers lined up on the wrong side,” Rollins explained. “Heath did a good job being patient and keeping his eyes down the field. But you’re rolling one way and everybody else is going the other way, it doesn’t look too good.”
Littlejohn’s sprint into the end zone drew the Raiders within 28-7. Less than a minute later — following safety Alex Helms’ pick-six — South was down by only two scores.
The play unfolded as CHS quarterback Keenan Black turned and soft-tossed a screen pass intended for Carter Mozingo on the right side. Helms stepped between them, confiscated the ball and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown with 9:06 to play.
“It was a great call by Coach (Dennis) Rivers,” said Helms, a transfer from New Bern. “He had us walking up to the line before the snap. As soon as I saw No. 14 (Mozingo) take a step back, I knew it was a screen and just shot through there.”
The play turned the boisterous Homecoming Night crowd into a human trampoline. “We made some mistakes tonight,” winning coach Glen Padgett said after Concord (4-0, 2-0) ascended into first place. “The pick-six was a great coverage play by their safety. But our kids made a lot of big plays too. We played hard. We played assignement football. And that’s what happens.”
Before it was over, Reid happened again. His final touchdown came when he skittered 32 yards down the right side midway through the final period.
“He’s just like his last name,” Helms said. “He can read the D-line. He can read it all.”
South closed the scoring when Barringer and Alec Stewart hooked up on a too-late-to-matter, 19-yard touchdown play late in the game, sending the crowd home with something it hasn’t felt in some time — hope.
“We showed we’re for real,” Barringer said. “We’re no joke.”

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