Cory Rowe, a 185-pound junior quarterback, and Kiree Thompson, a 170-pound junior wingback, proved to be quite a tandem as the Golden Raiders opened the football season with a 35-25 win over Volunteer. Seeing their first varsity action, Rowe and Thompson combined for 153 yards rushing and accounted for four touchdowns. Rowe kept the ball 17 times for 65 yards and completed the only three passes he threw for 87 yards. He scored two TDs on short runs and hit tight end Chase Arnold with a 29-yard scoring pass. Thompson ran 16 times for 88 yards and scored once.
The Raider duo counterbalanced an ironman effort by Volunteer’s veteran tailback, Devin Rogers. The 185-pound senior had 120 yards on 20 carries and scored twice on runs of 9 and 3 yards.
“I’m really proud of our overall effort,’’ Sullivan North coach Robbie Norris said. “I knew these kids would have a good time. “We made some mistakes. We’ll need to clean up our game to have a good season.’’
Rowe said counter plays were effective early on before North gravitated toward a power offense. “The counters worked, with Thompson and Matt Kendrick getting the ball,’’ Rowe said. “We worked hard in the offseason to develop our option. Once we got ahead of Volunteer, we went to a power-I and pounded it at them.’’
Rowe said having the 6-foot-4 Arnold as a target for passes was a plus. “All I had to do was get the ball up where Chase could reach it,’’ he explained. “He has good hands.’’
Norris said Rowe’s first start was impressive. “He did a great job running the offense,’’ Norris said.
Thompson gave North’s double-wing attack the kind of explosion it hasn’t had in a while.
“I’m glad he’s on our side,’’ Norris said. “He’s as quick as a hiccup.’’
Thompson said he was nervous before the game. “I’d thought a lot about it and had butterflies until I touched the ball for the first time on a kickoff. I got most of my yardage running behind Will Henshaw (end), Tyler Daniels (guard) and Keith Slider (tackle).’’
North’s kicking game suffered when Will White, while playing fullback, left early with a high ankle sprain. He punts and kicks off for the Raiders.
In defeat, Volunteer put on a show offensively. Rogers picked up a lot of second-effort yardage. He had to be helped off the field once with cramps but returned and continued to run hard.
“Rogers is everything we thought he’d be,’’ Norris said. “Man, he’s tough!’’
Falcons quarterback Houston Harris connected on 10 of 21 passes for 125 yards, with a lone interception. He scored one touchdown on a sneak. Harris distributed his passes well, hitting Heath Smith, Sam Barton, Kory Carter, Jesse Simpson and Rogers for medium gains.
“There is no QUIT in this team,’’ Volunteer coach Scott Rider said. “I’m very proud of the effort we had tonight. (The Raiders) controlled the ball like they wanted. We managed to get them in some long-yardage situations. They made plays when they had to. Our defense stayed on the field too long. But we’ll get a little better and be OK.’’
Fleet Jacob Jasper gave North’s offense some added zip. He scored on a 28-yard run and had 45 yards on seven carries. Hunter Lawson made a 32- yard field goal for Volunteer in the fourth quarter. Both teams were penalized heavily.