Friday Night Hero: West hero Malcolm Ingram picks up Falcons
By Mike London
MOUNT ULLA — As the free safety, West Rowan’s Malcolm Ingram is the last line of defense, but there were more firsts than lasts for the sophomore in Friday’s 28-21 win at Concord Jay M. Robinson.
First road win as a varsity starter. First varsity interception. First varsity touchdown.
“We faced adversity on the road in our first league game, and we came away with the win,” West Rowan head coach Joe Nixon said. “Malcolm was big for us.”
Ingram came through with two of the pivotal plays against the Bulldogs — a third-quarter pick-six when West was reeling and an interception in the fourth quarter that led to the Falcons’ winning touchdown.
“It didn’t feel that much different than any other game,” Ingram said. “I just happened to make a couple of good plays. I had a chance to make those plays because we’ve got a good pass rush and we’ve got two shutdown corners (Deyquan Byrd and J.T. Sanders).”
Byrd and Sanders are athletic guys who can match up, man-to-man on receivers, and they give Sanders a chance to roam, look for the football and make plays.
Ingram isn’t well-known yet, but he might soon be. While he stands just 5-foot-8, he’s strongly built at 180 pounds and he has kick-returner speed.
“He’s a kid up from the jayvees,” explained veteran DBs coach Tim Dixon. “But he was really good on the jayvees. He led the team in picks and he was a good return man. He’s a defensive kid, but he’s one of those kids who knows what to do with the ball when he gets his hands on it.”
With the Falcons (2-1) down, 21-14, in the third quarter, Ingram proved that with a 32-yard pick-six. West was in Cover 3, with Ingram patrolling the middle of the field. When he spotted the ball, his mindset was to be aggressive. He attacked.
“I told the guys I was going to get an interception and we’re taught to go get it whenever we see a ball in the air,” Ingram said. “I got a good break on it.”
The receiver never saw Ingram coming, and he made the interception at full speed. That receiver was leveled an instant later by a defender-turned-blocker, and Ingram was off to the races. A few seconds later, it was 21-21. That play was the game-turner because Robinson had the lead, the ball and the momentum. All those things disappeared in a hurry.
“Robinson had gotten the lead on a pick-six of their own, and we got those points right back,” Nixon said. “Malcolm jumped the No. 2 vertical route. He read the quarterback’s eyes the way he was supposed to. He knew what to do and he did it.”
While Ingram’s first pick can be credited to his quickness, his second interception showcased his concentration and his hands. Again the Falcons were in Cover 3, a deep ball was slightly overthrown, and Ingram managed to make a juggling interception as he tumbled to the ground.
“Everyone talks about receivers having good hands, but it’s important for a defensive back to have those good hands too,” Dixon said. “That was a great interception.”
West cashed in Ingram’s good-hands interception with a Kacey Otto to Juwan Houston touchdown pass with 1:52 remaining for the lead and the victory.
It was quite a Friday for Ingram. He also made a touchdown-saving tackle and he spent quite a bit of time on TV highlight shows bouncing around exuberantly.
The Falcons appreciate his youthful enthusiasm, but they appreciate his mature play even more.
“He’s doing a good job,” Nixon said. “He’s not letting anything get behind him.”
Northwest Cabarrus, a team that just ended an 11-game losing streak, comes to Mount Ulla this Friday. On paper, it should be a lot easier than Robinson, but Ingram’s taking the Trojans seriously.
“We’re not taking anyone for granted,” he said. “We’re just trying to get better.”