From Independent Tribune
Sep. 15--CONCORD -- Two fumbles on kickoff returns. Two miscues on punts.
That's how Friday night's South Piedmont Conference game with Hickory Ridge started for Concord High.
"I guess one thing that helped me is a little bit of experience," veteran coach E.Z. Smith said, referring to how he dealt with the Spiders' early mishaps. "Don't panic, stay with the game plan ... do what we got to do."
The calm, businesslike approach Smith and his coaching staff displayed on the sidelines during that rugged opening stretch obviously rubbed off on the Spiders, who after spotting the Ragin' Bulls the early advantage stormed back with 31 unanswered points to pull away to a 31-14 victory at rainy Bailey Stadium.
"I have a great coaching staff," Smith said. "They're experienced. They don't allow our team to look past the opponent. They also keep their head about them. They kept us in the ball game, our coaching staff did."
So did Roger Smith.
A week after setting a school single-game rushing record with 323 yards in a 41-6 romp over Piedmont, the junior tailback blitzed the Ragin' Bulls for 262 yards and two touchdowns.
Had it not been for two penalties that negated two touchdown runs, Smith would have easily broken that record
He scored on a 32 yard run in the third quarter, but it was called back because of holding. In the fourth quarter, a 78-yard scamper was disallowed because of an illegal block.
"I was disappointed because Roger ... before the game I thought Roger would probably break the record he set last week," Smith said. "I think he had ... I'm going to count 'em up and see how many yards he had. He had two called back that I know were just great runs."
After opening the season with two losses, Concord has now won two straight -- both coming in SPC play. The Spiders are tied for first place with Anson County, which knocked off A.L. Brown 24-21 on Friday.
But it far from easy.
The first-year Bulls put up a spirited effort in game that didn't offer many style points.
Concord fumbled three times in all, losing two on the first two kickoff returns, and struggled on special teams. One punt was blocked and another went awry when the snap sailed over the head of Brandon Barnhardt.
The Bulls turned two of those mistakes into scores -- a 24-yard touchdown pass from Brett Lilly to wide out Martin Murrell and a 3-yard run by Chase Phillips -- to jump out to a surprising 14-0 lead just eight minutes in.
"(Hickory Ridge coach) Marty Paxton did a great job," Smith said. "He's a former player and he knows what it's like to play here in Bailey Stadium. He prepared his kids and they did a good job. They got an opening turnover, took it down and scored. They got another turnover and another score."
It could have been much worse, but the Spiders' defense buckled down and kept the Bulls from converting on the other two turnovers deep in Concord territory.
That, in the end, was the difference.
Quarterback Tony Moore got Concord on the board with a 20-yard run a minute into the second quarter and by halftime, the Spiders had reeled off 24 points to go into the locker room ahead 24-14.
Moore tossed a 16-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jimmy Drye, Smith ran for a 32-yard score and Barnhardt capped the run with a 36-yard field goal.
Smith's 17-yard run in the third quarter was the final score of the game, which was called with 4:16 remaining because of lightning.
"It's a win," Smith said. "What can you say. We're 2-0 in the conference after being 0-2. Again, we're tied with somebody for first place. As long as we're winning, we're all right."
Moore finished with 91 yards rushing, helping Concord to a huge advantage in first downs (20-5). Smith also had one reception for 37 yards, giving him 299 all-purpose yards.
Murrell paced the Bulls with seven catches for 104 yards. Hickory Ridge was held to just 5 yards rushing on 14 carries. Lilly was 9 of 25 for 103 yards.
"I can't complain," Smith said. "Marty did a great job with his kids. They played their hearts out."