'Layin' the Wood' Propels South Point to 3rd Round...Red Raiders 37 Spiders 21

November 23, 2014

"Layin' the wood", a term used by Coach Lineberger during the week of practice to urge the Red Raiders to do what it takes to hand the Concord Spiders their first loss of the season. And at the end of the contest last Friday night it was the term used to describe the effort that South Point had just put in to squash the Spiders and advance to the 3rd round of the NCHSAA 3A State Playoffs. The Red Raiders took the field at Bailey Stadium in Concord and, in an outstanding display, laid the wood to the Spiders! With sights on avenging last year's painful loss to Concord, the Raiders played what may have been their best half of football all season, and then matched the effort in the third quarter before bringing home the victory. A relentless ground attack, solid defense, and strong special teams play mirrored the effort of the previous week and kept South Point's goal of a state championship alive. Only eight teams remain in contention for the title, South Point…and seven others! East Rowan awaits their shot at the Raiders and the South Point is ready for the challenge. A team focused on improving with every game needs only to repeat the effort left on the field in Concord to assure success

Concord won the toss and deferred the option to the second half, giving South Point the game's initial possession. The Red Raiders responded quickly with an eleven play drive that appeared to end on a Tanner Muse touchdown run but a holding call sent South Point backwards. The Raiders would punt but they had proven capable of moving the ball against the highly touted Spiders. Tyler Hall's punt was nearly covered in the field of play deep into Concord territory but the ball took a Spider bounce into the endzone. Concord had some early success with the ground game but the Red 'D' would not give in, rather they built a wall and pressured the Spiders quarterback. The result was a John Steele interception, his second of the season from his defensive line position. The Red Offense took immediate advantage from their 44 yardline. Keeping the ball on the ground, South Point benefitted from positive yardage on every play down to the Spiders' eighteen. From there Muse took a pitch from Jaquan Brooks, spun and broke three tackles, and raced to the endzone for the touchdown! Max Neisler's PAT was centered and the Raiders took the 7-0 lead. Concord had no answer for the momentum and enthusiasm with which South Point played. In all phases, the Red Raiders flew all over the field and made remarkable plays to keep the upper hand. The Spiders second possession extended into the second quarter, a testament to the Raiders' ability to control the clock in the early going.

On the possession and with the first play of the second stanza, the Spiders faced a fourth and three from the South Point forty. A pass lofted downfield was smartly played by South Point's JT Starr, who deflected the pass. Starr was in perfect position to intercept the pass, but South Point would have taken over at their twenty-two. By knocking the ball down, Starr gained 18 yards for the Raiders as they took over at the forty yardline. Smart plays like this are the mark of a championship caliber team! On the drive, Brooks began to call his own number and the Red 'O' continued to pick up chunks of yardage. Another eleven plays of clock draining ended with a Ryland Etherton one yard dive into the endzone. South Point stunned the Concord faithful with the 14-0 lead over the undefeated Spiders. Concord gained a measure of respect by spreading the field and taking advantage of some pass receptions by speedy receivers. The receivers "paid" for their catches though as the Raiders continued to lay crushing blows to the ball handlers. (It's doubtful that the Spiders, with their undefeated record, had been hit as hard as the Raiders hit them on Friday night!) A quick drive of 1:15 brought the Spiders to within a touchdown at 14-7. The quick score was a cause for concern…for about fifteen seconds! Because on the ensuing South Point possession, that began at the Raiders' forty-two, Brooks broke through a gaping hole on the right side and sped 58 yards for the score! The 21-7 South Point lead would hold up through halftime and the question left to be answered was not 'could they withstand the fury that would surely be Concord's comeback effort in the second half', but rather 'could they sustain their own outstanding effort that helped them build the lead of two touchdowns?'

An impressive mix of plays and formations used by Concord to begin the third forced the Raiders to focus on their positions. The Red 'D' held the Spiders short of midfield and forced a punt. The punt rolled to the Raiders' seventeen and seemed to be a good start to shift momentum for Concord. But, the Raiders had other ideas as Brooks and company returned to the field. Immediately taking advantage of a hole created by Matt Mellette and Clay Julen on the right side, Brooks raced 83 yards for the score! The South Point lead grew to 28-7 and the Raiders showed no signs of letting up. South Point's defense forced a quick three-and-out and the ball would be turned back over to the Raiders. In football, it makes sense in many cases to run a play that is successful until an opponent proves capable of stopping it. With that in mind and the ball resting at the South Point forty-two yardline, it thus made sense to let Brooks try the right side once more. Eleven seconds and 58 yards later, South Point led 35-7! Brooks would later admit that the sting of last year's loss had the team talking about revenge during practice through the week, but he denied that his effort was strictly personal. "It was all for the team, it was all for the team", he said, adding that once they saw the plays that gained positive yardage, they were determined to go back to them. Meanwhile, the Raiders' defense continued to play solid. Recovering a fumble on the next Spiders' drive brought the Red offense out once again in the third. The Raiders burned the clock before punting the ball back to Concord. The Spiders scored on the drive but could not do so quickly thanks to the Red defense and so the teams entered the fourth quarter with South Point holding a 35-14 advantage.

The Raiders special teams had made great plays during the course of the game by not allowing the big play and even gaining advantages in field position. With the punt that would be the second play of the final stanza, Tyler Hall drilled a forty-nine yarder that was downed at the Concord one! A false start by the Spiders backed them up inside the one and caused the Red 'D'-line to begin to salivate! On the next play, Phillip Davis shed a block and burst through the gap on his right side. Davis grabbed the Spiders' star running back and held him up in the endzone long enough for assistance to arrive. Tyler Hall and AJ Alverson joined the fray and the three teammates slammed the ball carrier down in the endzone for the safety! South Point led 37-14 in the fourth quarter with time running out in the game and Concord's season. The Spiders would score another touchdown on a six minute drive that benefitted the Raiders as much as it did the home team given the little time it left on the clock. With the ball and the score at 37-21, South Point was set to kneel out the clock and advance to a Thanksgiving Day practice!

The Red Raiders came into Concord with more than a chip on their shoulder to avenge a playoff loss of a year ago. That "chip" turned out to be a chunk of wood and the Red Raiders proceeded to 'Lay the Wood' to the previously undefeated Spiders in the second round of the NCHSAA 3A Playoffs. South Point's effort was outstanding and it vaulted them into a third round matchup with the East Rowan Mustangs, a team whose record fails to reflect how well they're currently playing. The important thing to consider is that as of now, only eight teams in the state have a shot at an NCHSAA 3A title, the South Point Red Raiders…and seven others!

Got Get 'Em, Red!

Notable Facts & Thoughts

East Rowan came into the playoffs with a 5-6 overall record (5-5 for playoff seeding) and are seeded 15th in the West. Their solid play of late gives this game all the markings of a trap game. Fortunately, the Red Raiders have continued to improve and are playing their best ball of the season lately as well. The Mustangs and the Red Raiders meet at Lineberger Stadium, the winner advances, the Mustangs go home!

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