High school football: Falcons win at Concord, clinch playoff berth

Published 10:42 pm Sunday, October 22, 2023


Staff report

CONCORD — Evan Kennedy and Jaylen Neely combined for 310 rushing yards, as West Rowan beat Concord 33-20 on Friday.

It was old-school football for the Falcons, featuring lots of rugged work by West’s offensive line against one of the South Piedmont Conference’s stingier defenses.

Neely was the workhorse with 26 carries for 201 yards and two scores. He went over 1,000 rushing yards for the season.

Kennedy had 100 rushing yards on eight carries and added 85 yards in receptions. He scored three touchdowns.

Brant Graham was 11-for-16 passing for 144 yards.

“Our OL romped and Graham was effective and hit four different receivers,” West head coach Louis Kraft said. “Kennedy and Neely were special.”

Concord (5-4, 3-4) has been a tough place to play over the years, but the Falcons (4-5, 4-2) scored first on a 35-yard pass on fourth down from Graham to Kennedy and never trailed.

It was an important win as it puts West Rowan in the 3A state playoffs as the South Piedmont Conference’s third-place team. With the addition of a Robinson, the SPC gets three automatic berths this year. West wasn’t very competitive with juggernauts Robinson and Northwest Cabarrus, but the Falcons have been able to handle everyone else in the SPC.

“The goal is to make the playoffs, and once you’re in, you see how far you can go,” Kraft said. “No matter who we play I don’t think they can be better than Robinson and Northwest. It definitely isn’t a weak league anymore. Adding Robinson was good for the league.”

West finishes at East Rowan, and even if the Falcons were to be shocked by the winless Mustangs, West would still be the SPC’s third-place team.

Kennedy and Neely broke long ones. Neely had scoring runs of 55 and 37, while Kennedy had a 53-yard TD run.

Concord briefly tied the game at 6-all on a 5-yard run by Keyvon Bost, but the Falcons took a 20-6 lead in the second quarter.

Concord put together a 50-yard drive late in the first half, and Tyler Ledbetter had a 10-yard scoring run right before halftime to make it 20-13.

Concord got the ball first to start the second half and reached the West 33, but West’s defense got a critical stop.

Concord was able to make it a 26-20 game in the fourth quarter, but Neely broke his 55-yard run with 2:42 left to seal the victory.

Concord has finished its SPC schedule and takes on rival A.L. Brown next.