East holds off South for homecoming victory
Published 12:03 am Saturday, October 23, 2021
By David Shaw
For the Salisbury Post
GRANITE QUARRY — Finally, some good news from the East Rowan corner.
After seven weeks in the dark, the Mustangs found some brightness — and the SPC win column — with Friday’s mistake-filled, 36-22 homecoming night victory over visiting South Rowan.
“Well, that was a long time coming,” winning coach John Fitz said, moments after the Mustangs (1-7, 1-4) were evicted from the conference cellar. “It’s not like they’ve been moping around at practice and not practicing hard. Our problem has been we get behind so much, so early, that it’s hard for us, hard for anybody to catch up.”
In a drawn-out game that saw more flags than the U.N., East reached the end zone five times, added a pair of Cole Eagle field goals and surpassed the 34 total points it had scored in the season’s first two months. Meanwhile, it’s defense forced five turnovers, limited South (1-8, 0-5) to 95 yards total offense and allowed only three first downs.
“We knew we were going to win it even before we went out there,” sophomore cornerback Logan Dyer said after intercepting two passes. “It just felt different. The energy in the locker room was better than its been all year. We were ready to play tonight.”
East can thank a careless South team that was penalized 24 times for 205 yards. The Mustangs overcame a 14-6 first-quarter deficit provided when South’s Trea Rucker scored on an 8-yard sweep to the right side and teammate Brandon Wilson returned an interception 96 yards for a touchdown.
“We did some good things early,” said first-year Raiders’ coach Chris Walsh. “We’ve got some young guys who are stepping into new roles — and we knew that coming in here tonight. I’m happy with some things we saw.”
He wasn’t happy with South’s three second-period possessions. Two punts and an interception sandwiched around Aiden Schenck’s 5-yard roll-out TD pass to running back Dominick Dale narrowed SR’s lead to 14-12 at halftime. East went ahead for keeps midway through the third quarter, when Tijon Everhart squeezed into the end zone from a yard out. Just 1:06 later it was 24-14, courtesy of Dyer’s first pick and another 1-yard touchdown burst by Everhart.
“In the second half, we ran the ball down their throats,” Schenck said after completing 21 of 30 pass attempts for 223 yards and three touchdowns. “The O-line opened holes, the running backs found them and everyone blocked, including my receivers. It was all working.”
East collected 155 yards rushing, led by Schenck’s 75 on 16 carries. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound junior was a chess-master under center, spraying short passes around the field and lowering his head for smashes into the line when necessary.
“He made some decisions that we’ve been trying to get him to make all year,” Fitz noted. “You know, as far as when to run, when not to run. He picked some really good times to run — and he’s a big kid, tough to bring down.”
East took 41 snaps in South territory in the second half, enabling Fitz to rest a defense that has yielded more than 37 points-per-game this season. Fourth-quarter interceptions by Dyer and safety Riley Kimmer kept the Mustangs fresh and focused. Eagle, who missed four extra-point attempts, connected on field goals from 32 and 28 yards.
The clock was winding down when South’s frustration bubbled to a head. Two separate incidents sent five Raiders to the sidelines with disqualifications.
“We’re still learning,” Walsh said. “There’s the good and bad in football. It’s football and we’ve got things to fix to get ready for Carson.”
South will close its season next Friday at home against Carson. East closes up shop at home against West Rowan.
“We did a good job keeping our cool and not getting into it with them,” Dyer said afterward. “The D-line had the most to do with it. They kept pressure on the quarterback and that’s what caused all those interceptions. Overall, I think we definitely earned it tonight.”
NOTES: South quarterback Jamie Klassette completed three of 11 passes for 64 yards and threw three picks. Backup Audric Coe’s lone attempt was intercepted by Dyer and returned to the South 35-yard line. South’s final TD came on Bronson Hunt’s 90-yard kick return with 4:02 remaining. … Max Bradshaw recovered a fumble for South’s other forced turnover. … South has lost its last 17 games against county opponents and last six against the Mustangs. … East was penalized 13 times for 111 yards. Everhart, a sophomore, rushed for 38 yards and caught five passes for another 74. … Fitz celebrated his birthday on Saturday.
East Rowan 36, South Rowan 22
South Rowan 14 0 0 8 — 22
East Rowan 6 6 12 12 — 36
ER — Eliis 29 pass from Schenck (kick failed), 10:16 1st
SR — Rucker 8 run (Fike kick), 1:28 1st
SR — Wilson 96 INT return (Moore kick), 0:41 st
ER — Dale 5 pass from Schenck (kick failed), 0:35 2nd
ER — Everhart 1 run (kick failed), 5:21 3rd
ER — Everhart 1 run (pass failed), 4:15 3rd
ER — Eagle FG 32, 10:46 4th
ER — Padgett 3 pass from Schenck (kick failed), 415 4th
SR — Hunt 90 kick return (Fisher pass from Klassette), 4:02 4th
ER — Eagle FG 28, 2:03 4th
Team Stats SR ER
First downs 3 20
Rushes-yards 35-31 40-155
Passing 3-12-4 21-30-1
Passing yards 64 223
Penalties 24-205 13-111
Punts 5-30.2 2-31
Fumbles-lost 3-1 2-1
Rushing — SR: Rucker 18-25; Richards 8-15; Hunt 3-(minus 2); Klassette 6-(minus 7). ER — Schenck 16-75; Ellis 10-38; Everhart 13-38; Usher 1-4.
Passing — SR: Klassette 3-11-3, 64; Coe 0-1-1. ER — Schenck 21-30-1, 223.
Receiving — SR: Richards 2-14; James 1-50. ER: Jones 7-40; Everhart 5-74; Usher 3-45; Ellis 2-28; Goodman 1-18; Eagle 1-10; Dale 1-5; Padgett 1-3.