ROWLAND — South Robeson didn’t have the smoothest start to its 34-22 win against Red Springs.
The first three drives all ended in lost fumbles.
But once running backs Andrew Hill and Juan Ellerbe found their grip, and their holes, they were hard to stop, putting up a combined 390 yards rushing to beat the defending Three Rivers Conference champions in the league for both teams.
“The backs get all the credit, but I tell ya, last year we couldn’t block a soul on that offensive line,” said South Robeson coach Stephen Roberson. “Everybody’s doing their job and that’s how we try to approach it.”
It’s an approach that’s put together the best five-game start since the Mike Brill era in Rowland. South Robeson has now won four straight games since a season-opening loss to West Bladen.
For Red Springs, Friday was the Red Devils’ fifth consecutive defeat coming off back-to-back 10-win seasons.
“We’re a young team,” said Red Springs coach George Coltharp. “I can’t fault my kids one bit. They fought from the first whistle to the last whistle, that’s what we do. My seniors fought to the end, but we’re a young team, it’s official.”
In many instances, Friday’s game came down to a handful of big plays as the Mustangs struggled to contain two-time county player of the year Blake Greene early in the game, but later kept him pinned back as the Red Springs offensive line struggled.
Greene was sharp in the first half, putting the Red Devils ahead with a 57-yard touchdown pass to Jamison Baker. It wasn’t a straight shot, but instead took several seconds of Greene dodging defenders in the backfield while waiting for Baker to get open.
Greene continued to be the main cog of the offense for the entirety of the game, picking up three runs longer than 10 yards, but also taking sacks that set the offense back for 58 yards. He found most of his success through the air for 238 yards, with Baker taking the big gains.
But once the South Robeson run game got going, the inexperienced Red Devils defense had a hard time stopping them.
Andrew Hill had 26 rushes for 252 yards, nine for at least 10 yards.
South Robeson’s defense scored the first points, getting a safety after pinning back Red Springs following a turnover on downs. The safety came on an option that ended in the endzone.
The first touchdown came later in the quarter when Ellerbe finished a 56-yard drive with an 8-yarder up the middle.
Ellerbe later provided a spark in the fourth quarter. Up 18-14, South Robeson started a drive on their own 6 and lost a yard on a run by Hill. Ellerbe then had a 15-yard run and followed it with an 80-yard dash, where he fended off defenders until crossing the goal line.
He finished with two touchdowns and Hill had one.
The Mustangs also made the most of the run on conversions, finishing 4-for-4 on two-point attempts.
Greene had three passing touchdowns, including a final one with :34 seconds left, which completed a drive that started on the South Robeson 15.
Reach sports editor Scott Schlaufman at 910-272-6111 or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ScottySchlauf
S. Robeson 34, Red Springs 22
Red Springs 7 0 7 8 — 22
South Robeson 0 10 8 16 — 34
RS — Jameson Baker 57 from Blake Greene (Hayden Bannick kick)
SR — Safety
SR — Juan Ellerbe 8 run (Andrew Hill run)
RS — Deandre Hallman 5 pass from Greene (Bannick kick)
SR — Hill 39 run (Run good)
SR — Ellerbe 80 run (Run good)
SR — Lee McCallum 12 pass from Kalvis Chavis (Run good)
RS — Jaqwan McLaurin 4 pass from Greene (Pass good)
PASSING — RS: Greene 16-30-1-238. SR: Chavis 5-11-0-58.
RUSHING — RS: Greene 20-33. SR: Hill 26-252, Ellerbe 15-138.
RECEIVING — RS: Baker 4-112
RECORDS — Red Springs 0-5, 0-1; South Robeson 4-1, 1-0.