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Seeking to rebound from consecutive gut-wrenching losses, the York Comprehensive High School football team shifts its focus to unbeaten South Pointe Friday night.
The Cougars, claws sharpened in a state of Friday night readiness, will battle the No. 2 rated Stallions at 7:30 p.m. Friday before what is sure to be an overflow crowd at the South Pointe stadium in Rock Hill.
While the Cougars were absorbing an emotional 23-21 loss to perennial powerhouse Northwestern, South Pointe was defeating Clover 42-0 in Blue Eagle Country.
YCHS head coach Bobby Carroll said the Cougars will have to step it up this week as they prepare to face highly-regarded South Pointe.
“We've had a couple things go wrong the last two weeks, namely penalties and kickoffs,” said Carroll. “We've got to move on and get ready to play a great football team.”
The YCHS coach further noted that the defending 3A champion Stallions are ranked No. 1 in several 4A polls.
“They have great players,” assured Carroll. “We will have to bring our A game.”
The South Pointe offense has been clicking under junior quarterback Davonta Blake, who completed 20 of 33 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns in a recent win over Nation Ford.
Carroll said senior quarterback Devin Pearson has settled in at cornerback.
“Their quarterback is talented,” Carroll said. “He can run and throw.
“South Pointe is unbeaten and well coached.”
In a battle of top-10 4A teams, the York-Northwestern nail-biter kept 6,000-plus fans on edge from start to finish.
Junior running back Ryan Moore, who gouged Northwestern's defense for 175 yards and three touchdowns, broke a tackle at the point of attack and scooted 40 yards for a touchdown, staking the home-standing Cougars to a 21-17 lead with 1:40 left in the game.
But Northwestern scatback Dupree Hart returned the ensuing kickoff 51 yards and the Trojans were in business at York's 35.
Aided by a roughing the passer call on fourth and long, Trojan quarterback Mason Rudolph scored what proved to be the winning touchdown from a yard out with 33 ticks left on the clock.
Northwestern's defense rose to the occasion in the first half, limiting the Cougars to three first downs and 37 yards total offense as the Trojans built a 10-0 lead.
But that would soon change.
The Cougars opened the second half with what appeared to be an onside kick, recovering the loose pigskin at Northwestern's 30.
Carroll later explained that it wasn't an onside kick.
“We were just trying to kick it low on the ground where they couldn't return it,” he explained.
The Cougars took advantage of the opportunity, with the Trojans getting a heavy dose of the Ryan Express.
The drive culminated with Moore going airborne and penetrating the end zone from the 1-yard line.
With the Cougar defense constantly pressuring the Trojan quarterback, the offense set sail of a 78-yard drive that pushed the home-standing York team ahead.
Moore (you guessed it) scored on a 13-yard TD run with 3:58 left in the third quarter and noisy Cougar fans were celebrating a 14-10 lead.
The Trojans put together a 54-yard fourth-quarter drive and regained the lead (17-14) when Tori Adams scored from a yard out with 7:02 left in the game.
After Moore's 40-yard TD scamper pushed the Cougars ahead with 1:40 left, the frantic finish to the game left York players, coaches and fans numb.
Facing fourth and long with less that a minute left in the game, the Trojans appeared to be staring defeat in the face when a Rudolph pass fell incomplete.
Many Cougar fans had begun to celebrate the win until a game official through a yellow flag to the ground for roughing the passer.
The scene shifted from ecstasy to gloom in a matter of seconds on the York side of the field.
“The kickoff return and roughing the kicker were costly,” Carroll said after the game. “We didn't want to kick the ball to No. 14.
“I said before the game it would come down to four or five plays and it did.”
Moore, who would rather the Cougars have won than finishing with big rushing totals, credited much of his success to the blocking schemes.
“I was able to make cuts off the blocks and get into open space,” he said after the game. “Everything seemed to fit with the running game.
“It's time to put this game behind us and focus on the South Pointe game.”