South Central head coach Andy Tew realizes the historic significance of Friday night’s 57-13 demolition of county rival J.H. Rose. But he also has his sights set on what’s ahead.
The Falcons crashed the the Rampants’ homecoming celebration with a dominant second half, outscoring Rose 36-6 to roll to their first-ever win in 13 games between the two schools. Along with securing a spot in history, the win got South Central (5-1) off to a strong start in Eastern Carolina 3-A/4-A Conference play.
“For a program and a community and a school, that’s a great feat,” said Tew, whose father-in-law and former Rose coach Lonnie Baker joined him on the sidelines
“For the other South Central Falcon teams that have come onto this field or other fields and weren’t able to come away with a win, that’s a great, historical moment,” Tew said. “But more importantly for this team, today, this season and what they’re doing, step one is in the books; 1-0 in the conference. That’s what we want to do. We want to continue to work toward our goal of being a conference champion.”
South Central looked the part of a title contender after Rose (1-5, 0-1) landed the first punch and led 7-0 after its opening possession. The Falcons capitalized on a blocked punt and one of two Cole Burgess interceptions to lead 21-7 at the half, then scored on all five of its second-half possessions.
“This is really a great feeling,” Burgess, a junior free safety, said. “I think this was our best game of the year. We came out with a lot of energy. There was a lot of smack talking before the game. We tried not to. We tried to have confidence and not be cocky, and we came out and played our game.”
The Falcons rolled up 339 yards rushing and finished with a whopping 523-231 yards in total offense. Nazir Monroe-Smith finished with 147 yards on 13 carries — scoring on runs of 63 and 38 yards — and had another 65 yards wiped out by penalty. Monroe-Smith also caught four passes for 89 yards, including a 68-yard catch and run on a middle screen.
Junior Jemere Artis made the most of his five carries, gaining 95 yards and scoring on runs of 8, 16 and 55 yards.
Quarterback Dexter mcDuffie completed 13 of 20 passes for 184 yards.
Rose junior quarterback Grant Charles Jarman got off to a hot start, connecting on 11 of his first 15 passes but ended the half 0-for-6 with a pair of interceptions. Grant Humphreys started the second half and directed one scoring drive.
Rose was limited to 110 yards rushing on 29 carries, led by Jaylen Dowell with 39 yards on 12 carries.
“I’ve got to take my hat off to our defensive front for that,” Tew said. “Those four guys and those linebackers, they did a great job of reading the blocks, reacting to how those guys were trying to block them and then they went and did something about it.”
Rose quarterback Grant Charles Jarman completed 11 of his first 15 passes and finished 13 of 24 for 121 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Jarman completed 4 of 5 passes on a 12-play, 62-yard scoring drive to open the game, converting a fourth-and-7 with an 18-yard pass to Zane Noles then lofting a 1-yard pass to 6-5 Ben Harris on fourth down fromt the 1.
The Falcons picked up just one first down on their first two possessions, but a blocked punt gave them the ball at the Rose 38 early in the second quarter, and Monroe-Smith dashed to the end zone on the next play. Kyle Hill blocked the PAT kick, keeping Rose in front 7-6.
The Rampants threatened to add to their lead, converting a pair of third downs and reaching the 13 before Burgess stepped in to pick off a pass at the 2 and return it to the Falcons’ 35.
South Central needed seven plays to punch it in, scoring on a 9-yard run by McDuffie for a 13-7 lead.
The Falcons dodged disaster later in the quarter when Burgess was stripped of the ball on a punt return inside the 10, but South Central recovered. On second-and-12 from the 32, McDuffie flipped to Monroe-Smith on a middle screen, and the speedy senior dusted Rose defenders for a 21-7 lead.
Burgess capped the half with his second interception, stopping a Rose threat at the 17.
“The first one I knew he was going to run a post route, and I just jumped it,” Burgess said. “The second one he was scrambling and looking for him, and I just came and got that one.
“We really came up with a good strategy against them,” he said. “It worked out man was the best coverage against those receivers. That’s what got us those picks.”
Monroe-Smith’s return to the Rose 44 and a 15-yard penalty set the Falcons up at the 29 to start the second half. Artis scored five plays later for a 28-7 lead.
Humphreys stepped in a quarterback for Rose to start the second half and led a 67-yard scoring drive, hitting Wesley Shade with an 11-yard fourth-down pass on a slant for the score.
But the Rampants simply could not slow down South Central.
Monroe-Smith scored on a 63-yard run on the second play of the next series. The Falcons then drove 94 yards with the help of two pass interference penalties and a facemask infraction, pushing the led to 43-13 on McDuffie’;s 1-yard run. Monroe-Smith also had an apparent 81-yard touchdown run called back by a golding penalty during the drive.
Artis tacked on scoring runs of 16 and 55 yards in the fourth quarter.
“They run it really well, and they do it out of a couple of different formations and a couple of different motions to run four or five plays,” Rose coach Dave Wojtecki said. “You’ve got to be consistent every single down to be able to top them.”
Consistency ranks among the top missing ingredient for Rose, Wojtecki said. Along with struggling to run the ball, and stop the opponent, Rose was flagged was flagged 13 times for 132 yards on Friday. South Central had 12 penalties for 101 yards but did not have a turnover.
“We’re just not very consistent right now,” Wojtecki said. “There’s times we look really good; there’s times we look atrocious. It comes down to a consistency thing. Obviously we’re not doing our job as coaches right now, pushing the guys to get better every single day. We’ve got to really look internally at us as a coaching staff. All that’s on us right now.”