East Rowan piles up big yardage, runs past South Rowan

Published 12:45 am Saturday, September 7, 2019

By David Shaw

sports@salisburypost.com

LANDIS — East Rowan’s offensive line threw a block party Friday night — and the guest list included running backs Sammy Pinckney and Jaden Thompson.

The Mustangs racked up 552 total yards, including 430 on the ground, in a decisive 42-14 non-league victory at South Rowan.

“The line played a lot better,” coach John Fitz said, moments after East (2-1) drove for touchdowns on six of its nine possessions. “But we’ve been harping on that for three weeks. It finally clicked tonight and started coming together.”

East’s O-line threw its weight around, largely by sticking to its assignments. Pinckney, a low-to-the-ground power back, provided enough horsepower to rush for 277 yards and three touchdowns. Thompson ran for 113 yards and a third-quarter score in what amounted to mop-up duty.

“Iso and power, all night long,” said senior right guard Dylan Courtney. “We can run it up the middle or we can run it outside. It doesn’t matter. We just strive to make the offensive line the toughest part of the team.”

South (0-2), meanwhile, struggled to keep pace with the Mustangs. It used Drew Huffman’s first-period TD pass to Nathan Chrismon to grab a 7-6 lead, but ran out of steam in the second half. That did little to tarnish coach Daniel Yow’s assessment of the Raiders.

“We preach to our kids about being relentless and fighting every play,” he said. “I truly believe they gave me everything they had on every snap. East Rowan’s a very good team with some very good linemen.”

South found out how dangerous Pinckney can be in the early going. The 175-pound junior slipped through the Raiders’ defense like a wet bar of soap, zigging and zagging for 214 yards on 14 first-half carries. On East’s fourth snap of the game he took a handoff from quarterback Logan Forbis, staggered across the line of scrimmage and busted a 46-yard touchdown run to open the scoring.

“All I remember is, the line putting up a big hole for me and I went through it as best I could,” he smiled afterward. “I did stumble because I ran some dude over and started tripping up. Almost lost the ball, too.”

South took its only lead late in the opening period, when Huffman capped an impressive, 11-play/65-yard TD drive by hitting Chrismon with a 7-yard screen pass to the right side. East responded on its first play of the second quarter — Pinckney’s highlight-reel, 77-yard touchdown run down the left sideline.

“It was a power formation,” he noted. “I saw a lot of grass and had to outrun a couple guys, but I felt I was moving slow. Guess I got a little tired.”

Fitz, who was somewhat critical of Pinckney’s on-field performance, related a touching off-field moment. “At halftime, a gentleman was sitting near us with a Korean Veterans hat on,” the coach pointed out. “And he called Sammy over to congratulate him on how well he was doing. And Sammy said to him, ‘And thank you for your service, sir. We appreciate it.’ That’s the kind of kid he is.”

While Fitz praised East’s offensive line for staying on blocks, he questioned Pinckney’s promptness. “Sammy’s been having issues with hitting the holes fast enough,” he said. “When he does, he’s very hard to stop. When he tries to pick around, he’s not as effective.”

You could have fooled Yow and the South defense.

“What he does very well is how patient he plays,” Yow said. “Some may say he’s not hitting the hole fast enough. I say he’s being patient, letting the play develop and then getting north right away.”

Forbis lofted a 28-yard TD pass through a crowd and into the waiting hands of wideout Vincent Jones, providing a 21-7 halftime edge. In the third quarter, East stitched together a pair of time-consuming touchdown drives — the first on Pinckney’s 2-yard blast through the middle and later on a 1-yard punch-in by Thompson. Huffman fired his second touchdown pass of the game in the final minute of the third quarter, zipping a 6-yard strike to Austin Peacock. Isa’ah Cauthen’s 14-yard touchdown run closed the scoring with 3:39 remaining.

When the closing credits rolled, Pinckney got first billing. But tight end Jacob Daubenmire and Master-Lock linemen Josh Samoa, Josh Teeter, Colby Lovingood, Dylan Goodnight and Courtney earned high marks.

“Those guys executed all game,” Thompson said. “They got to the blocks fastest and made it happen. Execution is key all the time.”

NOTES: Forbis passed for 122 yards and his fourth touchdown. Pinckney’s three scores were his first of the season. … Jones made three receptions for 76 yards, all in the first half. … Huffman passed for 73 yards and scrambled for another 42. Teammate Brayden Garrett bulldozed his way for 58 yards on 13 attempts. … East has a bye next week while South opens CCC play at East Davidson.

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