REIDSVILLE — The No.1 Reidsville Rams proved they were the better team last Friday during its 49-15 second-round 2A playoff win against Wallace-Rose Hill.
Yet to investigate how it happened could lead to a better explanation as Reidsville scored seven times and WRH just twice.
Consider the evidence.
— WRH had drives stall at the Reidsville 13-, 29- and 41-yard lines.
— Reidsville held a 14-0 halftime lead during a span when the two teams battled to more or less a draw, especially because neither team scored in the opening quarter.
— Reidsville opened up the third with a 4-play scoring drive to go up 21-0 before WRH found a way to score via a 12-play, 72-yard drive.
— But a penalty on the next snap resulted in 6-play march that made it 28-7. The bottom fell out after WRH failed on fourth-and-3 from the Reidsville 29. The big-play Rams scored in six plays at the 9:37 mark of the fourth quarter.
— Reidsville scored one play after recovering a fumbled kickoff. Then another kickoff fumble recovery and one play pushed the lead to 49-7 as the clock began to run via the 42-point mercy rule.
While many of the Bulldogs’ problems were self-created, Reidsville, seeking its third straight 2A title, flexed its talent muscles plenty.
Fullback Stevian Harrison, a fast 235-pound runner, ran for 256 yards and four scores.
WRH could not tackle the speedy bowling-ball of a runner no matter how hard it tried or how many defenders attempted to bring him down.
Any Ram fans would have laughed and cheered at the way he rumbled all over the field.
Vaunted quarterback Kyle Pinnix was off target early, but still ran for two scores. Pinnix, a junior, will play at Wofford College after he graduates.
Even so, WRH kept fighting the entire game.
Coach Kevin Motsinger felt he team lost the game early.
“We should have been up 14-0 the way our defense was playing,” he said. “We did all we could on No. 20 (Harrison). He’s a man-child. We shut down No. 1 (WR Breon Pass) and their receivers most of the night.”
Reidsville, which lost to WRH in the 2017 2A final in Chapel Hill (35-28 in overtime), had a verbal and physical battle with the Bulldogs, even though its head coach said the game “wasn’t personal.”
The Rams taunted the young Bulldogs as the two teams headed to the locker room at halftime. Fortunately, WRH players kept their cool.
But it got into their heads, Motsinger said.
“Desmond Newkirk would have laughed and Pookie (Javonte Williams) would have sat back and said, ‘OK, we’ll see.’ But these kids let it rattle them.
“I’ll say this, I’d rather be with my players on our bus rather than dealing with that team in the (other) locker room.”
Indeed, Reidsville had a few players back from 2017, among a boat-load of seniors, unlike the WRH roster, which is underclassmen heavy.
“I’m very proud our kids didn’t embarrass our school with all that extra stuff,” Motsinger said. “They played their heart out and at this point and time Reidsville is a better football team.”
Another problem for WRH was defensive end Ki Rankin, who had 15 solo tackles and was easily the most brutal player on the field.
He had the same build as Harrison, only a meaner, more physical style. And that’s saying a lot given the talent of Harrison.
WRH could not block him.
Still, the Bulldog offense, under the direction of coordinator Adam Scronce, drove the ball on the Rams. They simply did not finish enough of their drives.
Kanye Roberts had a season-high 217 yards, while Kaymond Farrior went for 97.
Roberts, a junior who carried the ball just 11 times in three games (East Duplin, Midway, James Kenan) in midseason after suffering an ankle injury, has run for 443 yards in this past three , including 117 against Clinton in the ECC title game.
Roberts also had a 51-yard kickoff return.
Farrior finished with a Duplin Times area-high 931 rushing yards. Roberts had 867.
WRH’s opening drive, an 11-play march, set a bit of an early tone for the heavily favored Rams.
A sack and interception ended the Bulldogs’ next drive, and Reidsville went up 7-0 on Pinnix’ sweep to the left side from 28 yards out.
Another pick on third-and-11 put Reidsville back on the offensive.
That time, WRH held out until Harrison bolted for a score on fourth-and-2 from the 7.
Roberts was the main cog in WRH’s first score, converting a fourth-and 2 from the WRH 35.
Quarterback Xzavier Pearsall scored on the 12h play on third-and-goal from the 6.
It left WRH with a 21-7 deficit.
Roberts ripped off a 48-yard scamper on the first play of WRH’s second score.
Four plays later he hit pay dirt from the 1. Farrior added the two-point conversion.
So in a game in which Reidsville had seven scores and WRH two, there were plenty of factors that say the Bulldogs were not as far off as the score might indicate. A couple of stones lead to an avalanche.
In fact, WRH put up more points against the Rams than any team this season.
Unbeaten Reidsville will play Elizabeth City Northeastern for the third time in as many seasons on Saturday in the @A East Region final. The winner gets .
Reidsville is seeking to add a 19th state title to its already-record haul. Robbinsville has 14 and Shelby 11.
Back to weights
WRH will return its entire backfield this fall when football returns to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the NCHSAA into instituting spring football.
More importantly, Motsinger and his staff will get players into the weight room.
“Every team we played this year was bigger than us, even James Kenan,” he said. “Our way to overcome that is getting all of our kids lifting regularly. That hasn’t happened in more than a year.”
The fall work starts this week for WRH. Rival East Duplin was also hurt by the loss of summer and fall workouts because of the virus. The Panthers beat WRH but did not make the state playoffs, which were cut short by one round—and half as many teams—by the NCHSAA.
Michael Jaenicke can be reached at email@example.com