Lumberton (5-5, 1-5) was marching on to the NCHSAA playoffs and Swett (2-8, 0-5) was left in the dust with a season-ending loss Friday night at Alton G. Brooks Stadium.
The Pirates’ victory snaps a three-game losing skid to the Rams, who had beaten Lumberton in seven of the teams’ last eight meetings, and 16 of the last 22 heading into Friday night. Brill and company hadn’t tasted a victory in the Backyard Brawl since 2008 at home.
“It’s nice, you always like to beat your rivals,” Lumberton head coach Mike Brill said. The Pirates doubled the Rams first-down output 18 to 9 and racked up 385 yards of offense to Swett’s 235. “The kids played great, followed the gameplan exactly, so I’m proud of them. It feels good.”
Brill, coaching inside his home digs one last time, blueprinted an offensive scheme that fed the ball to running backs Daniel Robinson and Ahmad Smith. Each rushed for 147 yards, with Robinson scoring three touchdowns, including the game’s opener on a 1-yard plunge, and Smith adding two.
The two seniors orchestrated perhaps the game’s biggest play on Brill’s fake punt call on fourth-down in the final minutes of the first half as Lumberton trailed 12-7. Swett found the end zone on a 62-yard kick return by Issac Jacobs in the first quarter and a 1-yard rush from Juwan Ellerbe in the second.
On Lumberton’s fake punt, Robinson took the misdirected snap and dumped a pass to a wide-open Smith for 27 yards. After a 24-yard rush from Frankie Dickerson put Lumberton inside the 10-yard-line, Smith finished what he started with a 6-yard scoring run with 1:15 left in the half. Jace Ward, who converted on all six point-after attempts, split the uprights as Lumberton took a 14-12 edge.
“People were going to think I was crazy if it (the fake punt) didn’t work,” Brill said. “We saw it on film all week. We worked on it every day. It was just a matter of him (Robinson) getting the ball to him (Smith).
“That was the game itself right there.”
Swett’s first snap of its ensuing drive led to the Pirates' Dickerson stripping quarterback Josh Brooks and Lumberton lineman Drafton Govan pouncing for the recovery on Swett’s 25. With a minute on the clock, the Pirates wasted no time taking advantage of the Rams' giveaway as Jez Deese hit Smith on a 25-yard seam route across the goal line, giving Lumberton a 21-12 lead at halftime.
“Coach Brill trusted me with the ball and I executed like I was supposed to,” said Smith, who finished with two catches for 46 yards. “It was a big momentum shift.”
The Pirates rode that wave in the third, widening the gap to 28-12 on a 11-yard touchdown run by Robinson.
“I thought Lumberton played very well, they played for their coach,” Purnell Swett head coach Mark Heil said. “I’m very happy for Mike Brill.
“They had a good scheme on us. We knew what they were running — we called it out — but we couldn’t stop it.”
Swett pulled back within 10 at 28-18 after a 2-yard scoring run from Chuck Oxendine, but the Rams couldn’t get any closer.
Robinson trotted in his third touchdown on the night with a 31-yard jaunt and Carpeneter followed with his punctuating pick-six. He later collected a second interception while Travis Suggs added a third for the Pirate secondary.
Swett’s Brooks finished with 140 yards and three picks on 9-of-19 passing. Tyler Maynor was his primary target, hauling in six grabs for 101 yards.
“I was proud of them, we really have had a tough year,” Heil said. “There’s 24 seniors and they could have folded up and I thought we played very hard the last few weeks … We just have to come home and regroup and try to get ready for 2013.”
Meanwhile, the Pirates and Brill live to see another day. Brill had a mob of supporters in the stands and on the sideline, including All-Pro fullback Vonta Leach of the Baltimore Ravens, a former player of Brill’s when he coached at South Robeson.
“I got about 50 to 60 people here, all my family and former coaches and staff,” Brill said. “So it’s been kind of a nice last one. But you know, we got one more, I guess.”