Concord weathers a storm, beats West
MOUNT ULLA — When West Rowan kicker Austin Morrison’s pointblank field goal split the uprights with 56 seconds left for a 10-all tie, fans stomped, cheered and started getting ready for overtime.
Concord quarterback Keenan Black didn’t get the memo, however.
After Carter Mozingo’s kickoff return to the Concord 30, the Spiders calmly rolled 70 yards in three plays and 33 seconds and beat the Falcons 17-10 in Friday’s battle for first place in the 3A South Piedmont Conference.
“This was a big-time game just like we knew it would be,” said Black, a senior and a three-year starter who is like a coach on the field. “We had to show big-time poise and a lot of maturity at the end, and we did.”
The key play was first down. Probably if West had stuffed a run by Nick Kelly, the Spiders (8-1, 7-0) would’ve been content to head to overtime. But Concord’s offensive line, which had taken a brutal beating early from the Falcons (7-2, 6-1), opened a big hole, and Kelly rolled 29 yards to the West 42.
Then Black asked 6-foot-4 junior receiver Hamsah Nasirildeen who already had an interception and a 68-yard reception, to make another play. Nasirildeen did, a terrific catch at the West 10 for a 31-yard gain.
On the next snap, Concord’s offensive line won another battle. Kelly powered 10 yards to the end zone, and the Spiders owned a stunning victory, their fourth straight against West.
“That was two great defenses out there tonight,” Concord coach Glen Padgett said. “Our offensive line had to replace five starters and West has a tremendous defensive line. But our guys hung in there. We hunted and pecked and we found a few things we could do to move the ball.”
In the first half, no one was moving anywhere.
Concord’s first four offensive plays were two sacks of Black and two negative running plays by Kelly. Concord fans felt like applauding when Black threw an incompletion on the Spiders’ fifth play. At least, it wasn’t a loss.
West got early sacks from Devin Turner, Tyler Wheeler and Justin Evans, and Kreshon Alexander picked off a pass.
Both teams had red-zone chances in the first half, but both were turned away. It was still 0-0 at the break. Concord had just three first downs in the half — on a face-mask penalty, a 58-yard run by Kelly, and a 68-yard Black-to-Nasirildeen connection on a surprise flea flicker.
“Our defense definitely came to play and it was a pretty good battle to see who was best,” said receiver Kortez Weeks, who was West’s offensive standout with seven catches for 116 yards.
On the first play of the second half, the Falcons got on the scoreboard when Weeks hauled in perfectly thrown deep ball by Kacey Otto for a 54-yard score and a breathtaking 7-0 lead.
“I thought that play was going to give us enough momentum to win,” Otto said.
Ordinarily it would have. West’s crowd went crazy, but Concord is not an ordinary opponent. There’s a reason Concord hasn’t lost a league game in Black’s three seasons as the starting QB.
“West’s touchdown to start the second half was a key moment in the game,” Padgett said. “Great play by them, they’re at home, and they’ve got all the momentum. I think most teams would’ve lost some focus. But we came right back.”
West owned the lead for less than two minutes. Concord drove 62 yards in a hurry. The key play was a 29-yard reception by tight end Drew Yoos to the West 30. Black capped the drive with a 1-yard plunge, and Concord’s female kicker Marisa James tacked on a critical PAT for a 7-all tie.
West made a goal-line stand late in the third quarter, but James was accurate on a 22-yard field goal that put the Spiders on top 10-7.
While West appeared to be the stronger team in the first half, Concord controlled the second half.
Concord was on the verge of a knockout punch early in the fourth quarter. Black believed he had a touchdown on a short run, but he was ruled to have fumbled before he crossed the goal-line. West made the recovery in the end zone and was still alive.
But the Falcons still couldn’t move the ball, and facing fourth-and-4 from their 26 with six minutes left, coach Joe Nixon had little choice but to call on Otto to punt.
The punt was relatively short, and the Falcons caught an enormous break when it brushed the leg of a Spider. Deyquan Byrd recovered, and West had another shot.
“Our kids were resilient all night in a back-and-forth game,” Nixon said. “I loved how we fought.”
West drove, mostly on Otto-to-Weeks passes. The Falcons had first-and-goal at the 2, but a holding penalty pushed West back to the 12, and the Spiders held. On fourth-and-goal at the 5, Morrison’s field goal tied it.
But after that, it was Black, Nasirildeen and Kelly getting it done for the Spiders and getting it done quickly.
“Clutch plays,” Padgett said. “We weathered a lot of storms tonight with clutch plays.”
Spiders 17, Falcons 10
Concord 0 0 10 7 — 17
West Rowan 0 0 7 3 — 10
WR — Weeks 54 pass from Otto (Morrison kick), 11:51, 3rd
C — Black 1 run (James kick), 9:08, 3rd
C — James FG 22, 2:16, 3rd
WR — Morrison FG 22, 0:56, 4th
C — Kelly 10 run, 0:17, 4th
First downs 15 9
Rushing yards 35-200 33-92
Passing 175 173
Comp-Att-Int 7-14-1 11-19-2
Punts 3-26.0 5-37.6
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 0-0
Penalties-Yards 5-50 5-45
RUSHING — Concord: Kelly 24-202; Hall 1-4; Mozingo 1-2; Black 9-(minus 8). WR: Otto 16-39; Quarles 10-28; Rankin 6-24; Young 1-1.
PASSING: Concord: Black 7-14-1, 175. WR: Otto 11-19-2, 173.
RECEIVING: Concord: Nasirildeen 3-104; Yoos 2-45; Mozingo 2-26.WR: Weeks 7-116; Houston 2-44; Caldwell 1-13; Quarles 1-0.