NEWTOWN – The 15th annual Council Rock North-CR South gridiron battle stood in direct contrast to last year’s duel between the Indians and the Golden Hawks. And yet, excitement filled the air surrounding Walt Snyder Stadium Friday night in Newtown.
Last season, current South Carolina quarterback Brandon McIlwain led the Indians onto the gridiron in a North-South duel that decided which team would capture the Suburban One League (SOL) Continental Conference crown. McIlwain led the Indians to a 35-14 triumph and North’s fourth straight trip to the postseason. South running back Brendan Patterson led all ball-carriers with 142 yards rushing.
Now, McIlwain is lining up for the Gamecocks and Patterson is playing lacrosse at SUNY-Binghamton. And instead of playing for a championship or a playoff berth, 1-8 CR North and 2-8 South were simply playing for pride.
With his team clinging to a 14-7 halftime lead, Patterson’s kid brother Chase, beat the Indian defenders to the end and raced 70 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown on the first play of the second half that put the Golden Hawks on top by two scores on their way to a 35-14 win of their own.
“You give my guys a crack of daylight and they’ll burn you,” said CR South head coach Vince Bedesem. “I thought he was down but he hugged that corner and it was amazing.”
“I think we surprised them,” added Hawks junior RB Elias Mayo, who scored on touchdown runs in both the first and last quarters.
Mayo opened the scoring with a 60-yard touchdown jaunt of his own in the latter stages of the first period that was very similar to the one on which Patterson reached the end zone.
“Some of the big plays are actually grind it out plays,” commented Bedesem. “That was a power-blast – that’s three yards and a cloud of dust.”
“But he’s got the know-how, the talent and the athletic ability to take it to the house.”
South fumbled the ball away on the first play of its next possession, however. North senior LB Mason Luff recovered and three plays later, junior RB Michael Welde dazzled the packed stadium with a 20-yard scoring run for the Indians that drew the sides even at 7-all.
Just when it looked like the teams might go to the intermission deadlocked, the Hawks put their 2-minute offense into high gear, capping an eight-play, 83-yard drive with a 14-yard TD pass from Christian Jabbar to sophomore TE Nick Gallo with just 22 seconds left in the half.
Jabbar was masterful on the possession, rushing for 15 yards on one play and throwing the ball for 10 (Gallo) and 17 yards (Alex Nordenholt) on two others. Indeed, the junior QB for South kick-started the drive with three straight rushes of 7, 8 and 13 yards.
“We have weapons and when you get the ball into these guys’ hands, they’re play-makers,” commented Bedesem.
After Patterson’s big scoring run to start the second half, North took possession of the ball at its own 49. It turned out to be the fourth time in the game when the Indians would fail to score, despite good field position when Hawks defender Shane Carter blew up a fourth-down pass to Welde when he tackled Michael in the backfield.
“It’s been difficult all year, not being able to maintain a balanced attack,” said Rock North head coach Matt McHugh. “When we’re trying to run the ball, teams have been stacking the box.
“Credit to them, they did a nice job of keeping contain on (Welde).
South then pushed its lead to three touchdowns, assembling an 8-play, 51-yard scoring drive that was capped by a 24-yard TD scamper by Jabbar.
With 5:20 to play in the third quarter, there was plenty of time for North to mount a comeback bid. The Indians certainly looked like they might do just that, especially when they took only five plays to answer back.
North senior Kevin Gibson got the ball headed in the other direction when he ripped off a 26-yard scamper to get the drive started. On 3rd-and-7 at the Hawks’ 11, quarterback Evan Devine found junior TE Jason Walter all alone in the right corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
Trailing 28-14, the Indians were within striking distance. Or so it seemed.
The next thing you knew, South was in the end zone again. It took the Hawks just six plays to get there, capping a 58-yard scoring drive off when Mayo went in on a 1-yard TD plunge on the first play of the fourth quarter.
“We like to keep our foot on the gas pedal so we always have to score,” said Mayo of his second touchdown in the game.
“Our mentality is ‘play like the score is zero-zero.’ We always play like the game is even.”
The Indians then sealed their fate when they took 16 plays on their next drive and all but 5:43 left in the game when they failed to score on their next possession that covered 81 yards of the gridiron.
On a drive that started at its own 14 yard line, North ate up more than seven minutes of clock. Midway through the possession, Devine found Gibson along the left sideline for what looked like a 30-yard gainer to South’s 1 yard line. But the play was called back on an Indian infraction.
On 4th-and-4 at the Hawks’ 25, Devine dazzled the Indian fans when he handed the ball off to senior RB T.J. Ayrer then went out for an 11-yard catch that gave North a first down at the 14. The drive stalled however when South LB Marco Mendes stopped Welde on third down for no gain and North senior RB Andrew Kelly came up short on 4th-and 3 at the five.
By the time the Indians got the ball back, there wasn’t near enough time to come back.
“No one had us winning but we were all prepared for this game,” said Mayo, afterward. “We knew we could do it. It was just a matter of making it happen.”
While South turned last year’s 35-14 loss on its head, North still leads the battle for the Unity Cup, 8-7.
For the game, Patterson led all ball-carriers with 100 yards on 10 rushes while Mayo added 83 yards on seven touches. Through the air, Babbar hit 8-of-11 targets for 115 yards. Sophomore Andrew Vera led all receivers with four catches for 54 yards with Gallo adding three catches for 47 yards.
Welde led the Indian rushers with 72 yards on 17 carries. Senior Phil Huddy led North’s receivers with two catches for 25 yards.
Carter added an interception late in the game for the Hawks.
Contact Steve Sherman at ssherman@21st-Centurymedia.com or @BucksLocalSport on Twitter
Council Rock South 35, Council Rock North 14
(Oct. 28 at CR North)
CR SOUTH 7 7 14 7 – 35
CR NORTH 0 7 7 0 – 14
CRS — Elias Mayo 60 run (Brett Gold kick)
CRN — Michael Welde 20 run (Alexio Troia kick)
CRS — Nick Gallo 14 pass from Christian Jabbar (Brett Gold kick)
CRS — Chase Patterson 70 run (Gold kick)
CRS — Jabbar 24 run (Gold kick)
CRN — Jason Walter 11 pass from Evan Devine (Troia kick)
CRS — Mayo 1 run (Gold kick)