WENTWORTH—Reidsville took advantage of their collective speed and athleticism while making the most of several short-field situations to roll to a 44-8 win over cross-county rival Rockingham Saturday afternoon at Cougar Pride Stadium.
After three-consecutive penalties to begin the game, which helped the Cougars advance the ball inside the red zone, the Rams defense came up big with a sack by Shyheiem Watlington on fourth down to give RHS the ball deep in their own territory.
Two plays later, Watlington had a break away run that advanced the ball across the 50-yard line all the way down to the Cougar 37. Moments later, the senior wide receiver ran 12 yards for a touchdown to put Reidsville up 6-0, following the missed extra point with 6:57 to go in the opening frame.
The Rams defense then forced a three-and-out, followed by a punt that gave RHS great field position on the doorstep of the red zone. Just three plays later, Watlington punched it in from 5 yards out, and Cam Peoples scored the 2-point conversion for the 14-0 RHS lead with 2:15 remaining in the first quarter.
Rockingham answered in the second period with an eight-play scoring drive, which culminated with a 1-yard TD plunge by quarterback Luke Smith, followed by a 2-point conversion throw to Cole Chandler to cut the Rams lead to 14-8 with 3:09 to go in the half.
It turned out to be too much time for Reidsville’s high-octane offense, however, as Lee hit Peoples across the middle, who then raced 52 yards for another score. A 2-point conversion on a pass from Lee to Watlington put RHS up 22-8 to close out the half.
After a couple of possession changes to burn up the majority of the third quarter, Watlington broke the line for about a 30-yard gain and was seemingly corralled by a host of Cougar defenders. But Watlington spotted a streaking Peoples on the sideline and made a heads-up lateral flip, which resulted in a touchdown to put the Rams up 30-8 with 3:24 remaining in the third period.
By the fourth quarter, Rockingham was forced to go for it on fourth down on several possessions, despite less than optimal field position, to try and get back into the game. That resulted in several short-field situations for the Rams who took advantage, capitalizing on their final two drives with a pair of 1-yard scores by Lorenzo Mendoza and Landon Denny to close out the victory.
It was a renewal of a county classic rivalry that began in 1977, a game which was not played for the first time in history last year due to a condensed schedule because of the 2020 coronavirus situation.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 outbreaks continue to negatively affect teams all across the nation, and Rockingham County was no exception. The Cougars just completed a mandatory 14-day lockdown Sept. 10 because of positive COVID-19 tests by several players, which postponed the original Sept. 3 date with the Rams.
The layoff was a particularly difficult one for RCHS. Not only did Rockingham miss back-to-back rivalry weeks with Morehead and the Rams, but they also could not practice together due to the COVID-19 precautions.
Cougars head coach Brad Baker and his staff did the best they could under the circumstances to compensate for missed practice times, holding tutorial zoom meetings at times they would typically be on the field, but obviously missed games and practices affect not only conditioning but timing and momentum as well.
Even though Rockingham held the advantage with time of possession at 33:06 to 14:54 and had 59 offensive plays as compared to 37 for Reidsville, the Rams quick-strike scoring ability combined with superior field position was a key in the game.
Watlington had 109 of 177 yards rushing to lead the Rams, while Campbell was the workhorse for Rockingham with 88 of 131 rushing yards.
Lee was 9-of-17 passing for 124 yards and a touchdown and had two interceptions on the day.
Smith was 12-of-21 for 51 yards passing.
Reidsville (3-0) will hit the road to take on Mid-State 2A Conference foe T.W. Andrews and Rockingham (1-1) travels to face Mid-State 3A opponent Southern Guilford Sept. 17.
REIDSVILLE 44, ROCKINGHAM COUNTY 8
Reidsville14 8 8 14 — 44
Rockingham County0 8 0 0 — 8 First Quarter
R Cam Peoples runs for 12 yard touchdown. P.A.T. no good. RHS 6-0, 6:57
R Watlington runs for 5 yard touchdown. 2-point conversion by Cam Peoples. RHS 14-0, 2:15
RC Luke Smith runs 1 yard for a touchdown. 2-point conversion throw from Smith to Cole Chandler. RHS 14-8, 3:09
RHS Al Lee throws 52 yard touchdown to Peoples. 2-point conversion on pass from Lee to Watlington. RHS 22-8, 1:23
R Watlington lateral flip to Peoples for 51 yard touchdown. RHS 30-8, 3:24
R Lorenzo Mendoza runs for 1 yard touchdown. P.A.T. Anthony Franson good. RHS 37-8, 4:32
R Landon Denny runs for 1 yard touchdown. P.A.T. Franson good. RHS 44-8, 3:21