High school football: One big play and lots of stops for Falcons – Salisbury Post

By Mike London
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MOUNT ULLA — The pivotal play in West Rowan’s 14-7 homecoming victory over Concord was a go route to West Rowan wideout Adrian Stockton.

It got off to a shaky start. Stockton stumbled as he began his sprint downfield.

The misstep actually worked to the Falcons’ advantage. Concord defenders relaxed for a split-second, so Stockton’s momentary stop turned into the perfect double move, and quarterback Lucas Graham stayed with him.

“Stockton stumbles, but he’s blessed with so much speed that he still runs by everybody,” West head coach Louis Kraft said. “He’s flying down our sideline. You can see it coming.”

Stockton had been behind all the Spiders once before when West took a shot downfield. That was a chance for a quick six, but Graham had under-thrown him, allowing Concord defensive back/quarterback Keyon Phillips time to recover and make the breakup.

But not this time. The line of scrimmage was the West 34. Graham zipped it to Stockton in stride at about the Concord 38. Stockton’s wheels did the rest. Sixty-six yards on the play. It had been 7-all for a very long time. Now the Falcons led 13-7 with 3:30 left on the clock.

“Lucas was on the money with that one,” Kraft said. “Our sideline absolutely erupted.”

Concord is 3-6, but no one who plays the Spiders can believe they have a losing record. They came close to beating Northwest Cabarrus, the South Piedmont Conference’s top team, a week earlier.

“Talented quarterback, plenty of athletes and very well-coached on defense,” Kraft said. “They’re sending some impressive guys out there.”

Concord scored first, took it right down the field against the Falcons on the opening possession of the game. The Spiders rushed for several first downs before Phillips threw a 30-yard scoring pass to Nylon Fair-Steele to cap the drive.

Concord kept that 7-0 lead until the Falcons got even with 1:19 left in the first half. Graham’s 25-yard connection with Evan Kennedy put the Falcons (7-2, 5-1) down around the Concord 5, and Graham got the touchdown on a sneak. It was 7-7 at the break.

West had momentum at the half. Concord (3-3 SPC) took it back by recovering a surprise onside kick to start the second half. West’s front line was peeling back to set up a return, and the Spiders burned them with a relatively easy recovery at the West 47.

West used a timeout three seconds into the second half.

“We had a miscommunication, 12 men on the field, and we were about to give them first-and-5 at our 42,” Kraft said. “We were able to use that timeout to get everyone settled down a little bit. We let our guys know we were OK. We just really needed to get a stop.”

West’s defense got that stop. West spent most of the second half making critical stops. Concord had back-to-back untimely penalties after reaching the West 21 on one drive, and the Falcons managed to keep the Spiders at bay. Most of the real estate the Spiders chewed up was between the Concord 30 and the West 30.

“Concord is very good at playing keep-away,” Kraft said. “They possessed the ball. They kept our offense off the field. We had it six times the whole game. But I thought we controlled the line of scrimmage in the second half. That may sound crazy because we only scored 14 points, but their field position was very good all night and ours was poor. They kept starting drives near midfield and we stayed backed up, but our defense kept fighting.”

Phillips didn’t throw much, but he’s a player and carried 18 times for 121 yards. Concord running back Jerell Redick fought for 91 hard-earned yards on 23 carries. That meant a lot of bending by West’s defence, but there wasn’t any breaking after that opening possession.

West got 91 yards on 20 carries from workhorse back Landon Jacobs. The Falcons weren’t able to get Kennedy, who has been a game-breaker, enough touches, but Stockton came through on the decisive series.

That decisive series began precariously for the Falcons after a super punt by the Spiders. The ball rolled to a stop at the West 5 with the clock ticking toward the 5-minute mark. At that point, overtime seemed to be about the best West could hope for.

But Stockton got the Falcons out of the hole with a 13-yard gain on a jet sweep.

Then Graham found Stockton for 14 yards and a huge third-down conversion.

Then came the stumble, the sprint, the throw and the catch for the lead. After that, the Falcons were just one last defensive stop away from victory formation.

Concord battled its way into West territory, but West got that stop.

Officially, West has clinched a playoff berth as the runner-up team in the SPC.

The Falcons are a lofty no. 8 in the 3A West RPI rankings. Their strength of schedule is solid, thanks to non-conference games with Salisbury and Mooresville. They’ll be seeded lower than eighth in the playoff bracket because all the conference champs from the 3A leagues will be seeded ahead of them, as well as the top 3A team from each of the 2A/3A and 3A/4A split leagues in the West.

But the Falcons should still be in the top 12 seeds. That means a first-round home game. That’s a goal they’ve been shooting for.

“That’s what we talked about before this game,” Kraft said. “West Rowan has had a lot of great players in recent years, but we didn’t get a first-round home game. This year’s team has a chance to accomplish that, and playing at home would be huge. Now we need to beat East Rowan.”

West finishes the regular season at home against the Mustangs, who picked up their first won of the season on Friday at South Rowan.

Concord will host traditional rival AL Brown in a non-conference game next week. Concord is 40th in the 3A West RPI rankings and is unlikely to make the playoffs.

Concord 7 0 0 0 — 7

West 0 7 0 7 — 14

C — Fair-Steele 30 pass from Phillips (Beltran kick), 8:39, 1st

WR — Graham 1 run (Arteaga kick), 1:19, 2nd

WR — Stockton 66 pass from Graham (Arteaga kick), 3:30, 4th

individual

Rushing — CON: Phillips 18-121; Redick 23-91. WR: Jacobs 20-91; Kennedy 3-10; Norman 3-7; Graham 2-(minus 2).

Passing — CON: Phillips 4-8-0, 51. WR: Graham 6-10-0, 128.

Receiving — CON: Fair-Steele 2-37; Watts-Williams 2-9; Smith 1-6. WR: Stockton 2-80; Kennedy 3-43; Poole 1-5.

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