• 64°

West Rowan falls to Hickory Ridge

HARRISBURG — West Rowan had the smile wiped off its face Friday night.

Just when it seemed the Falcons had everything in order in their SPC finale at Hickory Ridge, disorder prevailed and they scurried home with a 28-21 loss.

“This one hurt, but we’ve got to be ready to go next week in the state playoffs,” coach Joe Nixon said after West (8-3, 7-2) finished tied for second place in the league standings. “Still, our kids fought like crazy.”

On a night when West’s defense staged two goal-line stands, Hickory Ridge (7-4, 7-2) was clearly the better team. The Ragin’ Bulls rushed for 398 yards, scored three second-half touchdowns and took their only lead when slot back Petey Reaves scored on bizarre, 43-yard TD run with 2:36 remaining.

“We just gave up too many points, too many big plays,” said West defensive back Daquan Byrd. “We didn’t execute when we needed to.”

West’s offense scored on a couple of short-field drives and later took a 21-14 lead when quarterback Kacey Otto tumbled into the end zone with 5:29 to play in the third quarter. It capped a 76-yard scoring drive that featured Otto’s 51-yard completion to Kortez Weeks midway through the period.

“I feel like we all could have played a little better,” Otto said after passing for 163 yards and rushing for 76 and two scores. “But give them credit. They fought us until the end.”

Hickory Ridge was powered by thousand-yard rusher Jaylen Rudisell, a 212-pound workhorse who bumped and bruised his way for 206 yards and three touchdowns. His 1-yard slam over the left side and into the end zone drew the hosts within 21-20 as the third period expired. “He’s just a great player,” Nixon said, shaking his head before making a quick exit.

West closed the third quarter with Kam Caldwell’s reception to the 45-yard line. Then the Falcons did exactly what Nixon wanted them to — control the clock with their running game, mix in a handful of timely passes and advance into scoring position.

“We needed to make a few stops on defense and put up some points on offense,” junior back Jovon Quarles said after corkscrewing for 88 yards and his sixth touchdown of the season. “But we didn’t do either one.”

Otto spiraled completions to Weeks, Jai Hogue and two to Juwan Houston, steering the Falcons to HR 2-yard line. But the drive stalled after melting more than six minutes off the clock — thanks to successive illegal procedure penalties. On fourth-and-goal from the 12, Otto’s pass intended for Weeks fell incomplete.

“We needed to score some points off that drive,” Otto said. “But penalties happen. That’s football.”

It set the stage for Hickory Ridge’s game-winning drive. Instead of sticking with the hurry-up offense that worked so effectively, the Bulls used seven plays and three minutes to reach the West 43. On a third-and-4 play Reaves took a handoff from QB Greg Waslo and pounded up the middle. He found some space and angled toward the right sideline, advancing as he went. Then suddenly he faked a West defender, sliced back to the middle of the field and sprinted into the end zone. Rudisell’s two-point conversion run closed the scoring.

West’s final charge up the hill fell short when Otto’s fourth-down pass was deflected at the line and fluttered to the ground with 1:16 to go.

“It’s very upsetting, very disappointing,” Quarles said afterward. “This is nowhere near what we came here for. This one really hurts.”









Sheriff’s office: Man takes deputies on chase with stolen moped


Afternoon, evening COVID-19 vaccination clinic planned Thursday


Concord man charged with woman’s murder in drive-by shooting

Ask Us

Ask Us: Have city, county elected officials received COVID-19 vaccine?


City gives away nearly 100 trees during ‘We Dig Salisbury’ event


Political Notebook: Bitzer expects most ‘Trump-like’ candidate to be favorite in state’s Senate race


Blotter: Concord man arrested in Rowan for indecent liberties with children


Half of US adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot


Police: FedEx shooter legally bought guns used in shooting


Hester Ford, oldest living American, dies at 115 … or 116?


Size of pipeline spill again underestimated in North Carolina


Kannapolis Police searching for suspect who fled scene of homicide


RSS superintendent talks district’s future, strategic plan survey


Complaints and fines pile up against unpermitted landfill in southwest Rowan County


Catawba baseball: Crowd comes out to say goodbye to Newman Park


History is a great teacher: Farming has helped shape Rowan County


‘A safe place for them’: Timeless Wigs and Marvelous Things celebrates fifth anniversary

China Grove

County will hear request for more tree houses, hobbit-style homes in China Grove


Livingstone College partners with Health Department to administer 500 Pfizer vaccinations


‘Elite and it shows’: Staff at Partners in Learning at Novant celebrate news of national accreditation


Biz Roundup: Food Lion earns Energy Star award for 20th consecutive year


Ester Marsh: What body type are you?


The queen says goodbye to Philip, continues her reign alone


Worldwide COVID-19 death toll tops a staggering 3 million