• 59°

Prep Football: Mustangs romp relentlessly and efficiently

By Mike London
mike.london@salisburypost.com

GRANITE QUARRY —  East Rowan back Sam Wall steamed around the right corner on the first snap of the game, burst out of a pack of tacklers and blazed 65 yards to score.

Wall never looked back and the Mustangs never looked back on Friday against overwhelmed South Rowan.

East had eight possessions, scoring touchdowns on six and taking a knee on the others at the end of the first half and the end of the game.

East handled being an underdog against North Stanly in world-class fashion in Week 1. In Week 2, it handled being a favorite with equal assurance, taking care of business and taking care of South, 42-0.

“We prepared hard all week to play the way the game that we played tonight,” East center Hunter Eagle said. “We weren’t perfect, but we were good.”

East beat South (0-2) for the fourth straight time and is 2-0 for the first time since 2007. The Mustangs haven’t experienced a winning season since 2012, but that’s looking like a reasonable goal.

“We had zero penalty yards, and I don’t know if I’ve seen that before,” East coach John Fitz said. “I thought we got a lot out of all of our kids tonight. That was an efficient performance.”

The statistical leaders for the Mustangs were backs Sammy Pinckney (22 carries, 151 yards) and Wall (8 carries, 112 yards). Not counting the kneel-downs, East ran only three negative plays. Just about everything exploded forward 6 or 7 yards at a time with East linemen knocking the Raiders back. The Mustangs netted 322 rushing yards.

East QB Logan Forbis was 3-for-3, passing for 60 yards in the first half, but had only one completion after halftime. East was cruising by the break, 35-0, and Fitz wasn’t looking to rub it in.

“I’ve been on the other side of games like that, and it’s no fun,” Fitz said. “We said we were going to throw the ball a couple of times in the second half, but we weren’t going to do anything crazy. We were just going to keep running our basic offense and defense.”

The basics were good enough. East dominated in all three phases. When sophomore Isa’ah Cauthen scored a rushing TD with 5:12 left in the third quarter, it was 42-0, and the game resorted to a running clock.

After Wall’s instant touchdown energized the Mustang, scrambling South QB Drew Huffman lost a fumble near the East sideline on the Raiders’ third play from scrimmage. East’s Joe Plemmons secured the ball at the South 37, and the home team capitalized on the short field for an easy drive. Two-way powerhouse Christian Bennett barreled into the end zone for the score that made it 14-0 just five minutes into the game.

“You’re going to see more nights happen for us like this,” said Bennett a four-year starter who stars at linebacker and running back. “We’ve got a great defense and we’re going to cause some turnovers.”

South got a 10-yard run from Demarcus Blackwell and a desperate 17-yard sprint by Huffman on its next possession, but East got a stop near midfield, and pieced another scoring drive together that bridged the first and second quarters. Forbis hit Wall for 31 yards down the middle to get things started and finished the drive with a 15-yard strike to Gabe Hinceman for a 21-0 advantage.

“East did everything right and we did everything wrong,” South coach Daniel Yow said. “It was the perfect storm of good things for them and bad things for us. We got behind, and we had to play catch-up, and we can’t play catch-up.”

Blackwell was able to scrap for a few first downs on the ground and picked up another when he hauled a well-designed screen 22 yards, but Huffman was sacked three times before halftime.

Defensive standouts for East included Hinceman and Jesse Daubenmire, who had tackles for loss, and Cauthen, Bennett and towering defensive end Elton Hooper, who had sacks.

“We were well-prepared for their quarterback and shut down the RPO (Run/Pass Option) stuff,” Hooper said. “Our job was to keep the edge and contain the QB and then squeeze him and make him come to us.”

Pinckney punched in East’s fourth TD for 28-0 with 7:21 left in the half, and then Wall made another tremendous run for 35-0. Starting left, he found his planned pathway blocked, but he reversed his field and slashed back against the flow on a 9-yard scoring run.

“Sam is a great athlete and you’re never surprised when he makes a play like that,” Pinckney said. “All of us were ready to play and we did what we needed to do.”

The 15-year-old Pinckney showed that he’s the heir apparent to Wall, who is a senior.

“Before he finishes here, Pinckney is going to be one of the dominant players in the county,” Eagle predicted.

Blackwell came close to churning for a breakaway one hard-nosed run, but Hooper was one of the Mustangs who was able to chase him down. The long-striding Hooper sprinted 25 yards on that play.

East sophomore DB Tahj Young intercepted a pass in the end zone to stop South’s strongest scoring threat.

“You don’t want to be jumping for balls in your end zone all that often, but Tahj put himself in great position, and then he went up and made a play,” Fitz said.

Bryson Bebber had an interception for South, while Emilio Bernal had a sack and a breakup.

Yow knew from watching the Mustangs on film that East was a better team that the crew that beat South, 41-8, last season, so he had some apprehension about the matchup.

“East is good, very strong lines and with tremendous athletes behind them,” Yow said. “They’re a team that played to their potential tonight. We’re also a team with potential, but the execution just wasn’t there.”

East Rowan plays at East Chapel Hill next week. South will have its open week before it plunges into 2A Central Carolina Conference action.

 

Click here to view additional photos and order prints.

Comments

Local

Natoli promoted to assistant county manager, will retain human resources director title

Education

Attendance restriction lifted for RSS graduation ceremonies

Business

Rowan Chamber of Commerce will host in-person Power in Partnership on Thursday

Business

Rowan EDC will undergo name change, alter board requirements with updates to bylaws

Nation/World

Israel strikes Gaza tunnels as truce efforts remain elusive

Nation/World

Supreme Court to take up major abortion rights challenge

Nation/World

Biden boosting world vaccine sharing commitment to 80M doses

Crime

Man charged for stowing away on Norfolk Southern train, impeding railroad operations

Local

Group will protest treatment of Georgia woman during 2019 traffic stop

Crime

Man overdoses at Piedmont Correctional Institute

Crime

Sheriff’s Office: Two men escape from jail, found in bushes on Fulton Street

Ask Us

Ask Us: When will North Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue be resurfaced?

Local

Political Notebook: Rowan’s lawmakers pass 140 bills into the opposite chamber before deadline

Local

Police chief to present use of force policy; city manager to present 2021-22 budget

Crime

Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on charges of felony larceny, possession of stolen vehicle

Coronavirus

CDC director says mask turnaround based solely on science

News

Catawba College hosts three in-person commencement ceremonies

Local

With high case loads causing numerous staff departures, Child Protective Services seeks more positions

Education

Livingstone College graduates celebrate ‘crossing the finish line’ during commencement celebration

Coronavirus

Rowan sees 4 new COVID-19 deaths as mask mandate lifted, vaccines administered continue decline

Local

Spencer is latest town updating its development ordinance

Local

Salisbury native Kristy Woodson Harvey makes NY Times bestseller list

Local

Board of Commissioners will convene for third time in May

Business

Biz Roundup: Salisbury, Kannapolis among recipients of Region of Excellence Awards