Lumberton coach Mike Brill shook his head at the opposite end as he watched another Backyard Brawl go in the Rams’ favor.
For the third consecutive year, Swett was the last team standing in Robeson County’s most-heated rivalry and this time, it wasn’t even close.
Joe Swett picked up Zhrome Carmichael’s fumbled pitch in stride from Lumberton’s own 11-yard line midway through the second quarter and scampered unscathed across the goal line, punctuating the Rams’ dominance on defense in a 25-7 victory.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Swett said. “We got a shot at state now with this win. It means a lot.”
The Rams’ seventh win in their last eight games against Lumberton created a three-way tie for third place in the Southeastern Conference.
Later Friday night, Lumberton won a blind golf ball drawing at Hoke County High School and finished third in the conference. Swett finished fifth. The Rams remain on the bubble for the postseason with brackets being released Saturday.
Swett (5-5, 2-3) limited the Pirates to 163 total yards and seven first downs, saving their best defensive effort of the season for a must-win situation.
“Our kids have the most character in the world,” Swett coach Mark Heil said. “To lose so many close games the way we have this season and to come out tonight and play like this, it was a tremendous effort.”
Heil’s squad has closed the regular season with back-to-back wins, hoping to get back to the postseason for the seventh consecutive season.
“We knew Lumberton had a lot of speed and quickness, but our guys did a heck of a job up front,” Heil said. “It’s a testament to our kids on how well we played.”
Swett scored 19 points in a 7:02 span in the second quarter, highlighted by Chase Armstrong’s 42-yard bomb to Tyrell McDonald down the home sideline. McDonald, who dropped a touchdown pass on 3rd-and-goal on Swett’s previous drive, out-jumped a defender for the ball at the 10 and scored for a 6-0 lead.
McDonald, a junior, made a handful of leaping one-on-one receptions and finished with a season-best 116 yards on five catches.
“Coach told me I would have to step up tonight,” McDonald said. “I just did what was best for my team.”
Armstrong completed 9-of-16 passes for 163 yards and two scores. With the win, the 6-foot-2 senior joins an elite fraternity of Swett starting quarterbacks over the last two decades with at least two career victories over Lumberton. Armstrong is the first signal caller to accomplish the feat since Pat McCartney did so in 2006 and ‘07.
“The offensive line did a great job protecting me,” Armstrong said. “Tyrell made some big plays and we knew we were going to try and beat Lumberton down the field. I guess coach saw something on film and we went for it.”
Swett out-gained the Pirates by 244 yards and Dillon Hunt carved up one of the SEC’s top rush defenses for 189 yards on 19 attempts. Hunt’s 61-yard burst up the middle in the second put the Rams on top by two touchdowns.
Lumberton began the season 7-0 before losing its final three games.
Dorian Davis set up Lumberton’s fourth-quarter touchdown with 10:25 remaining with a 57-yard kickoff return inside Swett’s 5. Daniel Robinson scored on the ensuing play to get the Pirates on the scoreboard.
Friday marked the fourth time this season Lumberton’s offense has been held to single digits.
Staff writer Brad Crawford can be reached at (910) 272-6119 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Swett 25, Lumberton 7
Lumberton 0-0-0-7: 7
Swett 0-19-0-6: 25
PS —Tyrell McDonald 42 pass from Chase Armstrong (pass failed)
PS — Dillon Hunt 61 run (Nakota Locklear kick)
PS — Joe Swett 11 fumble return (run failed)
PS — Armstrong 1 run (kick failed)
LHS — Daniel Robinson 3 run (Connor Haskins kick)
RUSHING: Lumberton — Robinson 11-71, Carmichael 8-41. Swett — Hunt 19-189, T. Clark 13-29.
PASSING: Lumberton — Strother 3-7-0-13. Swett — Armstrong 9-16-0-163.
RECEIVING: Swett — McDonald 5-116, Jones 2-38, Hunt 2-9.
RECORDS: Lumberton 7-3, 2-3. Purnell Swett 5-5, 2-3.