South Stanly shut out at home by North Rowan, 42-0

Published 12:05 am Saturday, September 29, 2018

South Stanly quarterback Jaquez Cooke tries to avoid pressure from the North defense. (Photo by Starla Whitley)

South Stanly’s offensive numbers on the football field were improved this season under first year head coach Ryan Ochier.

The Bulls had scored 186 points in five games, including going over the half-century mark twice.

Coming off an easy win over South Davidson, South hosted a North Rowan Cavaliers team who had not played a game since Sept. 7.

The Cavaliers showed no signs of rust in a 42-0 win over the Bulls.

North Rowan (4-1, 1-0 YVC) dominated the first half on both sides of the football. The Cavaliers racked up 367 total yards of offense, scoring six touchdowns on offense.

Running back Malcolm Wilson did not reach 100 yards as he had the previous four games, but he found the end zone four times on the ground.

As a team, North Rowan had 131 net yards on just 15 carries, averaging 8.7 yards per carry.

It was through the air where North Rowan did the most damage. In the first 24 minutes, quarterback Willis Mitchell threw for 236 yards, completing 10-of-14 passes and throwing two touchdowns to Shymek Lyles. For the game, Lyles had 132 receiving yards on three catches.

The Cavs defense limited South (3-3, 1-1) to 136 yards on offense, forcing five turnovers. Zay Davis and Tyshon Sifford both picked off Bulls quarterback Jaquez Cooke, while North Rowan recovered three fumbles.

For the game, Cooke was 2-of-11 for 17 yards and was under pressure much of the night. He was sacked once but avoided being sacked several times by scrambling and getting out of bounds.

“We don’t expect to get turnovers, but we like to  get them. We always tell (our offense), if you turn the ball over you can’t defend it,” Cavs head coach Ben Hampton said.

Tyreke Watkins led the Bulls with 64 rushing yards on 10 carries, with Marcus Green adding 55 yards on seven rushes.

Regarding the long layoff, Hampton said: “the fear in the head of coming off two open weeks and three weeks of practice was rust. Our kids came out ready to play.”

Hampton’s offense was aggressive through the air early in the first quarter after a fumble on a handoff went to the Cavs. North Rowan turned the ball over on downs at the Bulls’ 20, but the defense got the ball right back forcing a three-and-out.

Wilson found paydirt on his first touch of the football, going up the middle and diving left for a 45-yard touchdown run. JD Weaver’s extra point put the Cavs up by a touchdown with 8:22 left in the first quarter.

On South’s next play from scrimmage, Khris Mayo, who entered the game as the Bulls’ leading rusher, fumbled and the Cavs’ Tyzai Lyles recovered.

“We had the mindset of if we had the ball from the 50 in, we were going to take a poke early,” Hampton said about putting the football in the air.

Mitchell did that on the Cavs’ next possession, finding a wide-open Shameek Lyles in the middle of the field for a 59-yard touchdown.

The duo hooked up minutes later in the first quarter with Lyles breaking two tackles to scoot into the end zone. The extra point was blocked, leaving the visitors up 20-0.

South looked to have built momentum on the final play of the first quarter with Seth Morton sacking Mitchell on third down.

As the teams switched ends, North turned the tables on South, doing something the Bulls have done multiple times this season: run a fake punt.

This time, Zay Davis ran for 26 yards to keep the drive alive. Wilson scored from 16 yards out to make it 27-0 North early in the second quarter.

South pinned the Cavs deep with a punt at the nine-yard line where the two teams exchanged possessions.

North’s longest drive of the night came next as the Cavs went 89 yards in six plays, including passes of 31 and 41 yards from Mitchell to Wilson and Lyles. Wilson’s one-yard plunge into the end zone and a two-point conversion put the visitors up 35-0 with 2:38 left in the first half.

Davis’ interception in the final minute of the first set up a 30-yard scoring drive, capped by Wilson backing into the end zone as the clock expired.

Both teams went deep into the bench in the running-clock second half.

South’s best drive of the night started around the five-minute mark and extended into the fourth. The Bulls went from the team’s nine-yard line down to the Cavalier 36, but another lost fumble ended the drive.

South continued to try and throw long in the waning minutes of the game, but Cooke’s last pass was picked off by Sifford on the final play.

“I thought they were good on film, but they are better then they are on film,”

South head coach Ryan Ochier said. “The turnovers early put us behind the 8-ball. We couldn’t get going.”

He added: “We could not get back on the same page together after the team’s start in the first quarter. I think we took a step back today as a team, but I know we can recover.”

The South coach credited the effort of Watkins and Green on the ground.

South Stanly travels to North Moore (1-4, 0-1) Friday.

The Mustangs lost to North Rowan’s next opponent, Albemarle, 34-7. The Cavs host the Bulldogs (2-3, 2-0 YVC) Friday.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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