CONCORD - Despite having a 9-0 lead, the Concord football team is still searching for its first win of the season after falling to West Rowan, 38-16, Friday at Robert C. Bailey Stadium.
The Concord offense struggled to really get anything going, collecting only 37 total offensive yards the entire game.
“(The Falcons have) a very good defensive line,” said Concord coach Marty Paxton. “Their linebacker corps, just front seven in general, is very talented.”
The Falcons’ front seven -- highlighted by defensive end Chaz McCombs, defensive lineman Zeek Biggers and linebacker Baiden Suddarth -- combined for four sacks and five tackles for loss. Their constant pressure also resulted in three interceptions.
However, the front seven of both teams were dominant in the first quarter. Combined, both offenses had 30 total yards and were held scoreless. On the opening drive, Spiders defensive lineman Ant Flores recorded a sack, which forced a Falcons three-and-out. The next drive, Concord’s Jaden Smith batted a pass down to force another three-and-out.
Then in the second quarter, both teams were lighting up the scoreboard with points.
Concord defensive lineman Jerry Earl got things going by sacking the Falcons quarterback for a safety. On the ensuing kickoff, Smith ran 60 yards to the 20-yard line to give his team an immediate red zone opportunity, and the Spiders capitalized with a Cameron Sledge 2-yard touchdown run to make the score 9-0 in a matter of a minute.
At that point, tailback Jalen Houston and the Falcons offense woke up. Starting on their own 16-yard line, they drove down the field, and Houston scored on a 43-yard touchdown run.
Concord immediately responded, thanks to Nijel Robinson’s 75-yard kickoff return, but that would be all the scoring the Spiders would have for the rest of the game. From that point forward, the Falcons seized control.
On the following drive, Houston busted a 19-yard run and a 29-yard run, capped off with a Suddarth 3-yard touchdown to cut the Spiders’ lead 16-14. After a Spiders three-and-out, Houston scored on a 14-yard run to take a 21-16 Falcons lead at halftime. In the second quarter alone, Houston had 143 rushing yards.
“Defensively, we have to make tackles and secure people,” Paxton said. “When we are playing teams with dynamic kids like Houston, you can’t assume he’s on the ground; you’ve got to make him get on the ground.”
In the second half, it was a one-sided show. West Rowan added two more touchdowns, a third-quarter 48-yard passing touchdown and fourth quarter two-yard run, as well as a field goal. Concord didn’t do much, throwing three interceptions and punting three times in the second half.
West Rowan 3-3 overall, 0-0 3A North Piedmont Conference; Concord 0-6 overall, 0-0 3A South Piedmont
THE PLAY OF THE GAME
After a West Rowan touchdown cut the Concord lead to 9-7, Robinson created some magic on the ensuing kickoff.
Fielding the ball on the 25-yard line, Robinson ran through a hole in the middle of the field, took a hard right toward the sideline to avoid a tackle and sprinted along the sideline.
Near the opponent’s 20-yard line, Robinson had two defenders coming at him, one at his hip and one in front of him. Right when both defenders reached their arms out to tackle him, he cut left and burst through those arm tackles, running free to the end zone to give the Spiders an early 16-7 lead.
-- Houston ran for 162 yards on 17 carries, highlighted by a 43-yard touchdown run.
-- Ty’Kese Warren caught all three of his targets for 74 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown catch
-- Defensive end Chaz McCombs had two sacks, three tackles for loss and one forced fumble
-- Ant Flores had two sacks and a tackle for a loss.
-- Kicker/punter Isaiah Clark had two punts more than 40 yards, including a 55-yarder that pinned West Rowan inside the 5-yard line. He also had a touchback and was 2-for-2 on extra points.
-- Concord team captains Todd Smith, Cameron Sledge, Ant Flores and Deonte Brown carried the No. 64 jersey of their former teammate Jessie Marroquin to the coin toss. This week marked two years since Marroquin and another Concord High student, Ricardo Solano, were killed in a hit-and-run on Concord Parkway. It was a classy move by the team captains to honor him.
-- The Spiders’ special teams was the star of the show, with Clark’s kicking and Smith and Robinson both having huge runs. For a team struggling to get its first win, it has to be good to know there’s one aspect of football it can expect to dominate.
-- It’s easy to be undisciplined as a winless team, but that’s not the case for the Spiders. They didn’t commit many penalties, and some of the penalties they did commit, like one defensive pass interference call, were definitely debatable.
WHAT’S UP NEXT?
West Rowan plays East Rowan next Friday, and Concord enters conference play at Cox Mill.
West Rowan 0 21 10 7 — 38
Concord 0 16 0 0 — 16
CHS - Jerry Earl sacks Noah Loeblein for safety
CHS - Cameron Sledge 2 run (Isaiah Clark kick)
WR - Jalen Houston 43 run (Federico Cruz kick)
CHS- Nigel Robinson 75 kickoff return (Clark kick)
WR - Baiden Suddarth 3 run (Cruz kick)
WR - Houston 14 run (Cruz kick)
WR - Ty’Kese Warren 48 pass from Loeblein (Cruz kick)
WR - Cruz 30 field goal
WR -- Cayleb Brawley 2 run (Cruz kick)