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Prep football playoffs: East Rowan pulls off the upset

By Paul Schenkel

The Morganton News-Herald

MORGANTON — On the road, as the big underdog, with a kicking game that had already missed an extra point and a field goal, there was little doubt No. 15 seed East Rowan would go for the two-point conversion and the win.

It did, and it was successful with 36 seconds left, to lift the Mustangs (6-6) to a shocking 50-49 victory over No. 2 Morganton Freedom on Friday in the teams’ 3A West opening-round playoff game. The Patriots had completed the program’s third undefeated regular season in school history, but it picked a bad time for a first loss.

The Northwestern 3A/4A Conference champion Patriots (10-1-1) hadn’t allowed more than 19 points in a game all season. It yielded 20 points by the 10:15 mark of the second quarter Friday.

“We have a great group of kids and coaches, and I thought we had a great gameplan going in,” East Rowan coach Kenneth McClamrock said.

“We let down a little bit in the second half (after leading 35-21 at halftime). But all week long, we talked about if it’s a one-touchdown game with four minutes to go, we’re going to win the football game. We wanted to see what we were made out of.”

Fittingly, Mustangs senior quarterback Samuel Wyrick found his brother, senior wide receiver Seth Wyrick, for the winning conversion pass over the middle. Samuel Wyrick completed 23 of 32 passes for 355 yards and five touchdowns, running for another 58 yards and two scores, while Seth Wyrick hauled in nine passes for 250 yards and four TDs, plus the pivotal late conversion.

“No doubt, we were going for two and the win,” McClamrock added. “I told our guys before the game, we’re going to throw out every trick that we could and try to win.

“As (numbers) 9 and 18 go, so do we. Samuel was on his ‘A’ game, and of course Seth did a terrific job of getting open as well as setting blocks on the edge. … I’m so proud of our effort, our fans who made the drive and our program.”

Freedom got an all-time Burke County-record 431 rushing yards on 30 carries in defeat from junior B.J. Emmons, who notched his third six-TD game of the season to finish the fall with 38 TDs. But five turnovers to the Mustangs’ two doomed Freedom in a rematch of last year’s 33-13 Patriots’ first-round home win.

Of East Rowan’s two penalties, one came on a questionable fumble call on a bang-bang big hit after what was ruled a very brief reception. The other turnover was a late Wyrick interception, but the Mustangs overcame it by blocking a Freedom punt at the Patriots’ 24-yard line to set up the Wyricks’ heroics.

The teams combined for an ugly 20 penalties for 160 yards. Freedom lost despite gaining 569 yards of offense; East Rowan tallied 472, and the teams combined to punt once.

Trent Townley and Bryant Godsey recovered a fumble apiece for East Rowan.

The Mustangs advance to play No. 7 West Henderson next week in round two.




East Rowan    14  21  0  15—50

Freedom         14  7  13  15—49


East Rowan                                     Freedom

23                 First downs                19

40-117          Rushes-yards            45-464

355               Passing yards            105

23-33-1        Passes                        4-6-1

1-1                Fumbles-lost              8-4

8-65              Penalties-yards          12-95

1-33.0           Punts-avg.                  0-0.0


Scoring summary

First quarter

ER — Samuel Wyrick 6 run (run failed)

F — B.J. Emmons 2 run (McCartney Barrier kick)

ER — Seth Wyrick 42 pass from Sa. Wyrick (Max Wall pass from Sa. Wyrick)

F — Niguel Moore 64 pass from Titus Smith (Barrier kick)


Second quarter

ER — Sa. Wyrick 1 run (kick failed)

ER — Se. Wyrick 16 pass from Sa. Wyrick (Shiheem Sanders pass from Sa. Wyrick)

F — Emmons 51 run (Barrier kick)

ER — Se. Wyrick 81 pass from Sa. Wyrick (Sal Sanchez kick)


Third quarter

F — Emmons 4 run (Barrier kick)

F — Emmons 78 run (kick failed)


Fourth quarter

F — Emmons 43 run (Emmons run)

ER — Se. Wyrick 80 pass from Sa. Wyrick (Sanchez kick)

F — Emmons 65 run (Barrier kick)

ER — Sanders 4 pass from Sa. Wyrick (Se. Wyrick pass from Sa. Wyrick)


Individual statistics


East Rowan: Sa. Wyrick 18-58, Wall 14-58, Tre Gillespie 7-2, Team 1-(-1). Freedom: Emmons 30-431, Smith 7-(-4), Izzy Davis 6-46, Steven Beck 1-3, Team 1-(-12).


East Rowan: Sa. Wyrick 23-32-1 355 yards, Se. Wyrick 0-1-0 0 yards. Freedom: Smith 4-6-1 105 yards.


East Rowan: Se. Wyrick 9-250, Simon Soles 6-60, Steven Hardin 3-22, Chandler Smith 2-12, Wall 2-7, Sanders 1-4. Freedom: Bailey Ragle 2-22, Moore 1-64, Jamie O’Neil 1-19.



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