ROWLAND – West Bladen grabbed an early 14-0 lead but fell victim to penalties and turnovers as South Robeson rallied for a 36-22 Three Rivers Conference victory Friday night.
On the first play from scrimmage of the game, Knight senior B. J. Drake broke a couple of tackles and raced 63 yards for a touchdown. Freshman Joseph Masaid split the uprights with the conversion kick and West led 7-0 only 19 seconds into the game.
Two plays later the Mustangs coughed up a fumble, and West Bladen’s Dayvon Swindell recovered at the South 22 yardline. A holding penalty stymied the drive and South Robeson took over on downs at the 16 yardline.
On the next play Swindell ripped the ball away from the South Robeson runner and dashed 19 yards for a West Bladen touchdown. Masaid booted the extra point for a 14-0 lead with 8:37 on the clock.
The Mustangs capitalized on a face mask penalty to start a 72-yard drive. On the seventh play Swindell appeared to take the ball away from another South Robeson runner at the Knight 27 yardline.
After a lengthy officials meeting, the Mustangs retained possession and capitalized 4 plays later when Darius Wright scored on an 8-yard run. Quarterback Tyler Locklear tossed a swing pass to Darrius Brown for the 2-point conversion that trimmed the margin to 14-8 with 3:51 on the clock.
On the fourth play of the second quarter, sophmore Tyre Boykin flipped a swing pass to Masai Carroway for a 2-yard gain. The ball came out late and South Robeson scooped it up. A penalty on the play against West moved the ball to the Knight 31 yardline.
The Knight defense stiffened after the turnover and stopped the Mustangs on downs at the West Bladen 17 yardline.
Brown’s 46-yard punt return set up the Mustangs at the Knight 42 yardline. Locklear hurled a 35-yard pass to Jarurias Davis, and two plays later Brown rammed into the end zone from 3 yards out for the tying touchdown with 2:17 left in the half.
On the next play from scrimmage, Andrew Chavis recovered a Knight fumble at midfield. Brown scooted 15 yards to start the drive then hauled in a 35-yard touchdown pass from Locklear. Locklear passed to Jamearos McLeod for the 2-point conversion and a 22-14 lead 1:10 before halftime.
A 15-yard face mask penalty and a fourth-down offside penalty against the Knights keyed a 53-yard Mustang scoring drive on their first possession of the second half. McLeod dove into the end zone from a yard out for the touchdown then caught a 2-point conversion pass from Locklear for a 30-14 lead with 5:39 left in the third quarter.
The Knights answered with a 53-yard, 9-play scoring drive. Swindell ripped off runs of 11 and 9 yards. Senior Michael Hepburn popped free for a 17-yard gain, and Drake snagged a 9-yard pass from Boykin to convert a fourth-and-nine situation.
Drake plowed through the line on a 2-yard touchdown run then barreled into the end zone for the 2-point conversion that whittled the lead to 30-22 with 1:00 left in the quarter.
South Robeson responded with a 55-yard, 10-play drive. A pair of 12-yard passes from Locklear to Davis with a face mask penalty tacked on sparked the drive. Brown caught a 22-yard pass from Locklear for the touchdown and a 36-22 lead with 7:50 remaining.
“We might have got too confident over that early lead and the way last week went (48-0 win), “ said Knight Coach Kris Williams. “But the kids fought back and didn’t quit.”
Drake rushed for 107 yards and 2 touchdowns on 11 carries to lead the Knights. Swindell ran for 42 yards on 8 attempts and scored on a fumble return. Boykin rushed for 33 yards and passed for 21 yards.
West Bladen held a 217-201 edge in rushing yards, but with 110 yards passing South Robeson held a 311-238 advantage in total yards.
Wright rushed for 123 yards and 2 touchdowns on 26 carries to lead South Robeson. Brown ran for 36 yards and caught 3 passes for 57 yards and 2 touchdowns. Davis had 2 catches for 53 yards. Locklear completed 5 of 9 passes for 110 yards.
Sophmore Tra’shawn Ballard led the Knight defense with 14 tackles – 9 solo. Drake had 8 tackles, and Hepburn, senior Jvahn Thomas, senior Jimmy Williams, freshman Kendall Johnson and senior Jonathan Robinson had 6 tackles each.
Both teams had 3 turnovers each and were plagued by penalties – West Bladen 12 for 133 yards; South Robeson 13 for 90 yards.
The Knights are now 3-3 overall and 1-3 in league play. West Bladen will host Whiteville Friday.