Head coach George Coltharp made it a point Friday night against St. Pauls to show his team could run the football in a pass-heavy Air Raid offense.
Junior Jedarian Lesane’s ability to run between the tackles for tough yards in the first half opened an opportunity to throw for the Red Devils, one they took advantage of with precision. Blake Greene completed 13-of-19 passes while Red Springs picked up 249 yards rushing.
“Doody (Lesane) ran hard and ran effectively, something we planned on doing during the week,” Coltharp said. “We thought we could have some success on the ground with the way St. Pauls positions its defense. Doody knew he was a big part of our game plan.”
Lesane’s coming out party was a 188-yard effort in the opener at West Bladen, but in his team’s all-important conference opener, the bruising back showed why he’s a viable option in both the zone-read rush and passing game. Lesane averaged 5.2 yards per carry, picked up 52 yards after contact, and caught a pair of swing passes that moved the chains and led to touchdowns.
“We have been able to move the football agains the teams we’ve played all year,” Coltharp said. “And I really do think Doody is the best back in this league. We haven’t been playing so well all year up front, so we challenged our line to play hard and we made a commitment to go downhill with Doody. He ran and caught it well, like he always does.”
Backed by a teammate’s threat to run, much like he had last season alongside Xavier McEachern, Greene blossomed for the second consecutive year against Red Springs’ rival. He tallied 314 yards of offense, six touchdowns and didn’t make any mistakes. A lost fumble in the second quarter that was scooped up for a touchdown was wiped away after officials ruled him down by contact.
Over his last 23 starts as Red Springs’ starting quarterback that stretches back to his freshman season, Greene has accounted for 77 touchdowns and 5,576 yards of total offense. He’s thrown 46 touchdown passes and rushed for another 31 scores during that span. His career numbers are staggering: 216-of-382 for 3,737 yards and 49 touchdowns with 22 interceptions. On the ground, Greene’s rushed 239 times for 1,839 yards.
His status coming into the game was unclear after going helmet-to-helmet with a teammate’s knee last week at Goldsboro. Greene was cleared late Thursday and didn’t practice all week.
“I’m just glad I could play and help my team,” Greene said.
Friday’s game featured a handful of trick plays, two that worked beautifully. On Red Springs’ first play from scrimmage, wideout Zach Leach picked up 20 yards on a reverse down to the Bulldog 26-yard-line. Later, St. Pauls’ Malik Livingston had his hand in a pair of nifty highlights for the Bulldogs. He notched an interception on a halfback pass from Lesane in the second quarter and later found Jhamel Leonard for a 35-yard gain on a fake punt.
St. Pauls’ drive would stall however when Leonard was stopped three plays later on 4th-and-goal at the 2. Missed opportunities were a trend for the Bulldogs and for the first time in more than a month, St. Pauls played from behind much of the game.
“When you have a breakdown here and there, you can’t let them build,” St. Pauls coach Trey Sasser said. “When you miss a blitz pick up, you have to make the next play and not let it multiply. We’re used to getting first downs, but we had a lot of 2nd-and-15s or 2nd-and-20s. That puts you in difficult situations.”
Red Springs travels to East Columbus this week in a contest that will decide the conference front-runner. St. Pauls will try and bounce back with a battle against South Robeson.
Brill upbeat after Lumberton’s second shutout loss
SOUTHERN PINES —Lumberton was shut out for the second time this season Friday night at Pinecrest in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams. Unlike the Jack Britt game, however, the Pirates consistently moved the football and had opportunities at points.
In the SEC, according to Lumberton coach Mike Brill, giving the opposition a short field is a recipe for disaster.
“We moved the ball up and down the field and I was really proud of my kids,” Brill said Monday. “But you have to hold onto the rock. You can’t drop it on the turf seven times and expect to win against a quality team.”
The Patriots cashed in on three first-half turnovers for 16 points, but struggled to move the ball against Lumberton’s dominant front seven. The Pirates held Pinecrest to a season-low 127 total yards, but couldn’t overcome four turnovers and an early injury that knocked star tailback Daniel Robinson out of the game.
Robinson rushed six times for 31 yards before exiting midway through the first with a knee injury. Brill says there is no timetable for his return and Lumberton’s leading rusher is expected to be re-evaluated Wednesday.
“It was just one of those games where so many crazy things happened,” Brill said. “We should’ve scored 30 points and wound up with none. We won the physical battle and played unreal defensively, but made too many mistakes on offense. The kids played hard, though, until the final whistle and that’s all I can ask.”