ROCK HILL — Such is Zeek Rodneys effectiveness as a pass rusher that South Pointe was able to play a Cover 2 defense much of Friday nights 31-28 win over York in the second round of the Class AAAA-DII state playoffs. Relying on Rodney, a one-man wrecking crew at times up front, the Stallions were able to flood the secondary and suffocate passing lanes.
They told us the game was gonna be decided in the trenches, said Rodney. They wanted me to put a lot of pressure on Spencer (Carroll) and make him throw some bad passes.
The ploy worked.
York quarterback Spencer Carroll finished the game with just 35 yards passing and two interceptions, and the Cougars were held to three first downs and three (yes three) passing yards in the first half when South Pointe built a 21-7 lead. The Cougars scratched back into the contest in the second half because of Lee Wrights two incredible special teams return touchdowns, not because their offense figured out how to block Rodney.
Proud of the defense. They had a great performance, especially in the first half, said South Pointe coach Strait Herron.
Rodney, who came into the game with 23 sacks this season, unofficially finished with five Friday night, while adding countless quarterback pressures. Along with fellow defensive linemen Matt Newman and Nick Adams, Rodney was able to keep Carroll from getting comfy in the pocket, allowing the South Pointe secondary to prey upon his hurried pass attempts. Carrolls interception in the second quarter was his first in four games.
We wanted to take away the quick passing game and let our rushers get more time to get to him, said Herron, but at the same time not give up anything deep.
Much of the night Rodney hounded Carroll; it wasnt too dissimilar from one of those dramatic Discovery Channel lion-gazelle chase scenes, and we all know that more often than not, the lion wins. Friday night, Rodney was a hungry lion.
Zeek, his thing is his motor, said Herron. Hes just full throttle all the time, and hes so quick off the ball that he gives us a force up front that teams have to deal with.
Soft Hat lifts
South Pointe offense
Anthony Johnson made an impact Friday night in his first game back after missing three contests due to a concussion suffered in a car accident. The 6-foot-3 senior caught just two passes, but they were touchdowns of 42 and 55 yards, and helped the Stallions avoid the offensive impotency that cost them so dearly in their lone loss of the year, the Oct. 26 defeat to York.
It took the double teams off me, said South Pointes leading receiver, P.J. Heath, because they had to check him too.
Once you put him out there with P.J. and DeShawn (Davis) and the others, it puts some pressure on the coverage guys, added Herron.
Johnson also made an equipment, and fashion, impact with the helmet he wore. His headgear, cloaked in a padded cushion, stood out from the rest of the shiny silver hats on the South Pointe sideline. Though purposeful, the helmet drew some teasing taunts during the week of practice leading up to the game.
We told him he looked crazy out there, said Heath.
It really did look like a helmet straight out of the leatherhead era, the 1950s. Heath was a little more lenient.
Maybe the 60s, he said, laughing.
But Johnson had to wear the helmet if he was to be cleared to play.
I kept begging to come back, and thats the only way they would let me play, he said.
Its something we might see more of as society continues to foster a deeper understanding of concussions and their short and long term effects.
But Friday night, Johnson was just glad to be able to help his team into the third round of the state playoffs.
It felt good to be back, help my team out, make some... it just feels good.