Things had gone from bad to worse for Purnell Swett. Multiple turnovers and missed assignments had plagued the Rams. Following a 34-0 win over South Robeson (2-3) on Friday night, however, all was nearly forgotten by Swett head coach Mark Heil.
“I thought that we got better tonight,” said Heil following his delivery of hugs to players, family members and friends in the end zone. “We had just been so disastrous with mistakes over the last four weeks, but we didn’t self-destruct tonight. We made some mistakes tonight, even some that made our kids look like they hadn’t played football before, but we didn’t self-destruct.”
“We’ve looked about as bad as any football team I have ever had. I just want to see us get better. We have to improve, and improve, and improve. If wins come with that, then we will be very happy.”
With the exception of its first two drives that stalled inside the South Robeson 40-yard line, Purnell Swett (2-3) was fluid on offense the majority of the first half. The Rams, anchored by Andrew Hill’s 209 rushing yards and two touchdowns, put together drives of nine and 11 plays in the first quarter, and then rattled off a 15-play drive that ended on a 28-yard field goal try that fell short in the waning seconds of the opening stanza.
It didn't matter though. Purnell Swett had already taken advantage of a pair of interceptions with methodical scoring drives that gave the Rams a 15-0 edge heading into the half. By intermission, the Rams had already out-gained the Mustangs by a 208-42 count and had held South Robeson to just three yards of offense over the last 20 minutes of the opening stanza.
At game’s end, the defensive dominance displayed by the Rams on Friday had produced some gaudy numbers: 12 tackles for loss, 16 quarterback hurries, three interceptions, one fumble recovery and five pass break-ups. Swett's defense held South Robeson to just 27 yards of offense — on 44 plays — through the first three quarters. The Mustangs, who had lost 11 yards on 26 carries through the first three periods, recovered in the fourth quarter to post a modest 28 yards on the ground by the end of the contest.
“We had some things that worked early, but we got away from it,” South Robeson head coach Stephen Roberson said. “Our quarterback took some shots tonight and we need to do a better job of protecting him. We are a very young team and we are still learning. Purnell Swett is a good team with a lot of depth and we sort of got a little tired in the second half.”
Purnell Swett would add three more scores to its tally in the third quarter, including two touchdown runs by Hill. Backfield mate Juwan Ellerbe ran for 90 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, while quarterback Jeremiah Swett threw for 72 yards and a pair of scores on 6-of-11 passing.
Both squads will use an off week the next few days to make some repairs to their teams, but both will face different types of opponents when they begin conference play on Sept. 28. South Robeson will host a reeling Fairmont squad, while Purnell Swett hits the road to battle a powerful Scotland team.
“It’s a whole lot better going into a bye week with a win than a loss,” Heil said. “Obviously, Scotland is a much better football team than people thought they were. We have to improve by next Friday during the bye week, and we have to improve even more by the next Friday when we go to Scotland.”