Mount Pleasant romps past East Rowan

Published 1:15 am Thursday, September 13, 2018

By Marny Hendrick

sports@salisburypost.com

MOUNT PLEASANT — It was just one of those nights for East Rowan  here Wednesday. Nothing went right for the Mustangs in a surprisingly lopsided loss to Mt. Pleasant, 32-14.

The Mustang’s ground game was stopped cold, while the host Tigers used a balanced attack to post 23 points in the second quarter alone, putting the game out of reach by intermission.

“We just weren’t in sync at all,” said Mustangs’ head coach John Fitz. “We couldn’t get anything going in our run game early. We couldn’t run the iso, couldn’t run the power, couldn’t run the counter. Nothing was working.”

At the same time, the Tigers caught East flatfooted with a passing attack that produced 158 yards and two TDs from senior quarterback Chance Daquila. It was unexpected since Mt. Pleasant came into the contest averaging just 53 passing yards per game and no touchdown passes.

“Chance and Cade McDonald (4 catches, 90 yards, two TDs) had a great game tonight,” said veteran Tigers’ coach Michael Johns. “Our passing game is rolling now and it felt good because we got our running game going last week (a win over Concord) and now our passing game is going. Our whole offense is rolling now.”

Playing two nights early due to the oncoming hurricane, East came in with an impressive 3-1 record, despite a lopsided setback to Central Cabarrus. The Tigers, out of the Rocky River 2A conference, started the season with three lopsided losses to strong teams but improved to 2-3. Now, they seem like teams headed in different directions.

The Mustangs may have known they were in for a long night when Mt. Pleasant took the opening kick-off and drove 59 yards for a score. Along the way, they fumbled and recovered the ball twice, including the last play, when big runner Landon Honeycutt fumbled into the end zone. His teammate, receiver Bryson Leonard, fell on the loose ball to make it 6-0 right off the bat.

While East was struggling to get its running game going, the Tigers broke loose in the second quarter with a barrage of points to build a big lead.

Mt. Pleasant drive 80 yards behind runners Honeycutt and Garrett Overbay to reach the East 23-yard line as the second period began. Then Daquila found McDonald behind the defense down the middle for the 23-yard score. Honeycutt’s conversion run made it 14-0.

A momentum changing blocked punt by Honeycutt set the Tigers up again at the Mustang 30. After converting on 4th and 10, Honeycutt scored from the 3-yard line and then ran for the two-point conversion for a 22-0 margin at 6:07 before half.

The Mt. Pleasant defense stopped East on a fourth down conversion attempt  late in the first half  to start another drive. Yet another fourth down conversion on a Honeycutt run set up a 19-yard scoring pass from Daquila to McDonald  with just under 30 seconds left. Suddenly, it was 29-0 and the Mustangs were reeling.

“East was playing us really tight on pass defense,” Johns noted. “So we felt that boded well for us and that we could get some separation. Now, we’ve got a whole new dimension going which gives us momentum for the rest of the season.”

The East defense actually did a solid job in the second half stopping a couple of serious scoring threats and allowing only a 26-yard field goal by Owen Prifti midway in the fourth quarter.

At the same time, the Mustangs abandoned their running game to start the second half, coming out in a spread attack and putting the ball in the air 12 times with some positive results. But it proved too little, too late.

“That is just not us,” said Fitz. “Coming out wide and throwing the ball all over the place is not what we do, but we needed to try something different.”

Mustangs’ quarterback Logan Forbis (221 yards passing) found Sam Wall for 125 yards and two scores in the fourth quarter, the last for a 59-yard TD with under a minute left. He also hit senior receiver Gabe Hinceman eight times for 92 yards in the second half, but had two drives halted by Tigers’ interceptions.

“Defensively, we played a complete game tonight,” said Johns. “We shut down their run game, made the interceptions and made big plays on special teams.”

After an extended time off due to the hurricane threat, East Rowan will return home next Friday, Sept. 21, for homecoming. It will be a stiff challenge, however, as the Mustangs face unbeaten Northwest Cabarrus of the South Piedmont Conference. Mt. Pleasant will take on J.M. Robinson in a non-league game the same night.

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