Rosewood claims first playoff victory since 2003
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 14, 2010 1:51 AM
Control the pace.
Burn the clock.
Keep the offense in short-yardage situations.
Rosewood did all three in nearly flawless fashion Friday evening.
But Jyhkia Applewhite supplied the spark the Eagles needed to end seven years of futility in the N.C. High School Athletic Association football playoffs.
Applewhite's 56-yard, first-quarter punt return for a touchdown put Rosewood in a relaxed mode during its 35-6 rout of South Davidson in their Midwest 1-A region contest. The Eagles (5-7 overall) won a home postseason game for the first time since 2003 before a sparse turnout at Branch Pope Field.
"The past two games, we've been able to control the pace of the game, been able to run the ball and haven't had to throw it," said Rosewood head coach Robert Britt. "The kids are blocking well, our backs are running hard and we're executing our offense well. It was another night defensively where I thought we played extremely well.
"Right now, we've put together back-to-back games where we have played really well and we haven't done that in a while."
Rosewood consistently moved the sticks and chewed up time off the clock in the battle of ball-control offenses. The Eagles owned an eight-minute advantage in time of possession through three quarters.
Junior halfback Shane Whitley rambled for a game-high 135 yards and one touchdown on 25 totes. Applewhite provided 38 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries, while Corey Dickerson supplied 48 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.
The Eagles out-gained the Wildcats 255-181 in total offense.
"We were successful because we ran hard every play," said Rosewood quarterback Taylor McGill. "If the outside didn't work for us, we ran in the middle. If we didn't run good in the middle, we ran outside and that helped us, too."
An interception and special-teams miscue quickly put the Wildcats (3-9) on their heels in the opening quarter. Rosewood defensive end Jamie Wooten picked off Jordan Hughes on the third play from scrimmage and set up the offense near midfield. However, the six-minute drive stalled inside the red zone on a missed field goal.
The Wildcats punted on their next possession, and the momentum shifted in the Eagles' favor. Applewhite returned the ball to the house, which spearheaded a 35-point outburst by Rosewood.
"When you get an explosive play, that kind of ignites everything," said Britt. "It increased our confidence level and put our kids in a mindset that we can beat this team if we play well. You could tell that our step got a little bit faster in the offense and we were hitting the hole a little bit quicker.
'That definitely got us rolling."
Whitley's two-yard scamper before halftime gave Rosewood a 13-0 advantage. The Eagles got second-half touchdowns from Applewhite and Dickerson. Whitley played a limited role in the final two quarters after suffering a minor ankle injury in the third.
South Davidson churned out 73 yards rushing as a team on 27 attempts. Hughes completed eight passes to four different receivers for 108 yards, and threw two picks. Dane Hill's 13-yard touchdown reception midway through the fourth quarter helped the Wildcats avoid their third consecutive shutout in the postseason since 2008.