FAYETTEVILLE — Going into the fourth quarter, the Purnell Swett Rams were in position to win the opening game of the season. The Rams were tied with the Pine Forest Trojans at 14 before the game tilted away from Coach Mark Heil’s team.
“I felt our team played as hard as any team that we’ve had in a long time,” Heil said. “I thought Pine Forest was bigger than us and they had some good looking athletes.”
Heil said the biggest difference in the game was in the conditioning of the teams, and the depth.
“If we just had a couple more kids that didn’t have to go both ways, we could have won the football game,” he said. “Our skill people just got tired.”
The Rams had a successful first half, even taking a 14-7 lead on the Trojans behind Thristan Lowry, who threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns in the game.
“In the first half, we moved the ball really well on the ground and in the air, and in the second half we really lost our running game so we were limited to the pass,” Heil said.
Once the Rams became one dimensional, it was difficult to turn things around.
“We lost our rhythm because of that,” Heil said.
The Purnell Swett coaching staff isn’t feeling too down after the loss and Heil said he feels the team just needs a few more parts to become a contender.
“I like our toughness, and I like how we fought,” he said. “We are going to have to have a couple more kids step up and make some plays.”
West Bladen runs over South Robeson
ROWLAND — South Robeson had a first half to forget in Friday’s 48-8 loss to West Bladen.
In 24 minutes, the Mustangs allowed 42 points and gave up the ball five times on fumbles but rather than get on his team’s case, new coach Clay Jernigan tried to change the mood.
“I didn’t chew them out at halftime,” Jernigan said. “I told them all I want you to do is have fun, and win the second half, and they did.”
The Mustangs allowed only six more points in the game, which moved to a running clock, and scored in the fourth quarter when Deshawn Hamilton entered the endzone on a 14-yard run.
West Bladen finished the game with 398 yards on 42 carries, while the Mustangs had 94 rushing yards. Hamilton finished with 45 of them and Malique McDowell had 139 rushing yards for West Bladen.
Jernigan credited many of the issues to growing pains.
“On the field tonight, we had three players that started last year, and the rest of them had never started or played on varsity, and they realized how fast the game was and what it’s all about.”
“They stepped up and took on that challenge, and that’s the positive thing I’m looking at.”
Red Springs struggles defensively in loss
WHITE OAK — Red Springs’ defensive issues were seemingly summed up on a 90-yard touchdown run by the opposition.
As White Oak ran the ball down the field in a 47-30 win, coach Ron Cook counted at least four players that had tackles wrapped but couldn’t get the rusher down.
“All it came down to defensively was we couldn’t tackle,” Cook said. “We played a good team, we knew it was a good team but they were a very beatable team”
The Red Devils allowed three touchdowns to open the game and cut the lead to 21-8. As they made a drive to cut the lead further, a fumble gave the ball away. Two touchdowns later and Red Springs trailed 35-8 at halftime.
Quarterback Cody Freeman threw for three touchdowns, two to Eric Graham and one to Deandre Hallman. Hallman also had a rushing touchdown.
Red Springs avoided kicking the ball and converted three of four two-point conversions.
Cook said he was proud of how his team never quit.
“We kept fighting, as tired as we were, as bad as we played fundamentally,” Cook said. “We just weren’t as focused we needs to be.”
Fairmont kept off pace in loss
ELIZABETHTOWN — After losing 23 seniors to graduation, Fairmont’s underclasses not only had to step into varsity roles on Friday, but against one of the state’s toughest teams.
The result was a night that left coach Randy Ragland less than pleased after a 50-30 loss to East Bladen.
“We didn’t play as well as we could play,” Ragland said. “We’ve got a lot we can work on”
The Golden Tornadoes trailed by as many as 30 points at one point but came back and finished the night with six touchdowns but failed to convert on any two-point conversions.
Ragland said many of the early struggles were a result of him trying to do too many things with his young players.
“We were a little confused at times, usually we aren’t like that,” he said.
Julius Caulder threw four touchdown passes and ran for a fifth in his first night behind center but also had an interception returned for a touchdown.
“We understand why we lost the game,” Ragland said. “We’ve just got to iron out a few things.”
Scotland stomps on South View
FAYETTEVILLE — After a long, tumultuous summer, Scotland unleashed its emotions on South View, dismantling the team 52-0 during Friday night’s season opener.
Scotland scored on its first offensive possession of the game, as senior Quadrin Williams scampered down the left sideline for a 48 yard touchdown. On the Scots next possession, they took advantage of a Tiger defense that was looking for another running play after being gashed the previous drive. Junior Dashaun Ferguson executed a beautiful play-action fake and drew the safeties in, leaving Randy Leak with single coverage down the middle of the field. Ferguson threw a dart and connected with Leak for a 55-yard touchdown and the Scots never looked back from there.
Head coach Richard Bailey said the playcall wasn’t initially designed to go deep, but he saw the defense appear to commit to the run and had confidence Ferguson would make the throw.
“We’re a ‘check-with-me’ type of team,” Bailey said. “We’re going to take whatever they give us. That play was called because their safety got nosey on the run Quadrin had before. When we see the safety coming over we’re going to try to throw it over his head. Football is not that complicated — if they’re over here, we go over there. If they’re over there, we go over here.”
Ferguson said he was late on the throw, but was happy with the result.
“I saw him late but he was wide open so it didn’t matter.”
Richmond rocks Rocky River
MINT HILL — Rocky River’s Jaire Alexander broke free down the middle of the field as Naiil Ramadan lofted the ball toward the end zone.
Alexander had reeled in two touchdown receptions from Ramadan earlier in the game and it appeared as if he was going to get his third.
Then seemingly out of nowhere, Richmond’s Daryus Skinner appeared to get a fingertip on the ball to knock it away from Alexander. Rather, as Skinner called it, “four fingertips.”
Skinner’s play allowed Richmond to escape with a 21-14 victory over Rocky River in the season opener for both teams.
“I knew I had to get there and make a play,” the junior defensive back said. “I had to make up 10-15 yards. When he had posted, he broke off to the left side. I was over both of them and I looked off the one receiver and ran over there.”
That wasn’t Skinner’s only big play in the contest. At the end of the first half with the Ravens in Raider territory, Skinner intercepted Ramadan’s Hail Mary. P.J. Everett also picked off a Ramadan pass.
Richmond coach Paul Hoggard was pleased with the way his defense was able to make the key stop late in the game.
Logan Martinez and Shawn Stinson contributed to this report.
Purnell Swett 35, Pine Forest 21
Purnell Swett 0 7 7 7 — 21
Pine Forest 7 0 7 21 — 35
Purnell Swett stats:
Passing: Thristan Lowry 18-39-225-2-2
Rushing: Thristan Lowry 10-44, Malcolm Locklear 6-24, Joshua Jacobs 9-22
Receiving: Josh Brooks 7-133-2, Garrett Hammonds 4-22.
West Bladen 48, South Robeson 8
WB 14 28 0 6 — 48
SR 0 0 0 8 — 8
WB — Malique McDowell 9 run (Colby McLean kick)
WB — Kesean Sutton 23 run (McLean kick)
WB — Colby Lewis 1 run (McLean kick)
WB — Malcolm Vaught 13 run (McLean kick)
WB — Vaught 34 run (McLean kick)
WB — Stephon McDonald 9 pass from Lewis McLean (McLean kick)
SR — Deshawn Hamilton 14 run (Cedric Sinclair run)
Passing: WB: Lewis 2-4-0-13.
Rushing: WB: McDowell 14-139, Vaught 6-86; SR: Hamilton 5-45.
Receiving: WB: McDowell 1-4, McDonald 1-9.