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By: Anthony Perkins

Belmont – With six seconds left on the clock in the fourth quarter the West Rowan Falcons punched the ball into the end zone on a three yard pass from Kacey Otto to Kortez Weeks to cut a 28-21 South Point lead to 28-27.  West Rowan head coach, Joe Nixon, told his team during the previous week, “If it comes down to the end of the game and we have a chance to win by going for two, we are going to go for two.”  True to his word, on the ensuing two point conversion attempt, Otto dropped back to pass but could not find an open receiver and with the Red Raider defenders closing in, he started to his right then rolled to the left but his receivers were still blanketed by a determined Red Raider defense.  When he neared the left side line additional Red Raiders had closed in and just before being tackled he flipped a five yard pass to Weeks in the end-zone but South Point’s Matthew Robinson dove toward the pass and knocked it harmlessly to the ground to preserve a Red Raider win and propel them into next week’s Western Finals.

West Rowan started the game off with a jolt when Jovan Quarles gathered in the opening kickoff at the Falcons 12 and broke free up the middle for a return all the way down to the South Point 20.  Five plays later and after converting a fourth and one the Falcons took the early lead on a seven yard pass from Otto to Weeks.  Austin Morrison connected on his first of three PAT’s to give the visitors a quick 7-0 advantage.  

The Red Raiders answered on their only possession of the first quarter by going 84 yards in 12 plays with Nolan Wilson covering the final three yards on an option pitch to the right and Thomas Lempereur split the uprights on the PAT to tie the game at 7-7.

The Falcons advanced the ball inside the South Point 20 on their next possession and were poised to retake the lead until JT Starr got his first of two interceptions to temporarily turn back the Falcons.  The Red Raiders could not take advantage of the turnover and were forced to punt the ball back to the Falcons with just under eight minutes left in the half.  West Rowan then went on a 53 yard scoring drive that Otto capped off with a three yard run with only 14 seconds remaining in the half.

Trailing by a 14-7 count the Red Raiders took full advantage of the opening kickoff in the second half when they were set up near mid-field by Ryland Etherton’s return.  South Point covered the 52 yards to pay dirt on 8 plays with Etherton knotting the score at 14-14 on a 1 yard run.  
Safety JT Starr’s second interception occurred on the Falcon’s next possession deep inside their territory and the Red Raiders took full advantage by taking the lead on a 19 yard run by quarterback Diontre King but a missed PAT keep the score at 20-14.

The clock rolled over to the fourth quarter on the Falcons next possession and after advancing the ball inside the South Point 30 the Red Raider defense dug in and stopped the Falcons on a fourth and five for no gain to retake possession.  With momentum on their side, the Red Raiders added their last score of the game on their next possession at the end of a 71 yard drive when Wilson notched his second score on a 12 yard run.  Fullback Ryland Etherton ran in the two point conversion to give the Raiders what looked like a comfortable 28-14 lead, however the Falcons were far from finished.

West Rowan was able to add two more scores in the final nine minutes of the game to give the Red Raiders and their fans a serious scare before the two point attempt to win the game came up ever so short.  West Rowans final two scores came on two Otto passes with the first one going to Juwan Houston on a 30 yard catch and run and the final one was the three yard pass to Weeks.  

Only two yards separated the total output of both offenses.  West Rowan had 289 yards with 177 rushing yards on 50 carries and 112 yards passing with Kacey Otto connecting on nine of 21 passes but he tossed two costly interceptions; one that prevented a possible touchdown and one that led to a South Point score.  The Red Raiders garnered 291 total yards with all of it coming through 45 rushing attempts.  

Although disappointed by the loss, West Rowan’s Joe Nixon said, “South Point is a good team and we knew that coming in, but our team played well and we had our chance to win it in the end but we came up a little short.”

After the game South Point head coach Mickey Lineberger said, “We beat a very good West Rowan team and I’m well pleased with the effort of our boys tonight.  The defense bent but didn’t break when it came down to the last play.”  

South Point will be at home again next week as they go up against the Kings Mountain Mountaineers in the western finals.  Kings Mountain defeated Hibriten on Friday night by a 28-13 final score.


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