Then, the second half happened. The Bulldogs were outscored 20-0 the rest of the way by the Golden Tornadoes, who defended their Three Rivers Conference title with the win.
Nevertheless, St. Pauls coach Trey Sasser saw encouraging signs — in the first half, at least — from his squad’s showing against the county’s only undefeated team.
“Offensively, we played a pretty good half of football,” Sasser said.
Locklear found Henderson on a 25-yard score early in the second quarter to open the Bulldogs’ scoring. Henderson leads all area receivers in touchdowns with 10.
“We’ve kind of settled in (on offense) the last three or four weeks of the season,” Sasser said.
St. Pauls’ offense, however, fell into a stalemate in the second half thanks to a cluster of fumbles. The Bulldogs coughed the ball up seven times.
Meanwhile, Fairmont, which fumbled 14 times in its previous two outings, dropped the ball just twice.
“You’re not going to make mistakes against good teams and not have them capitalize,” Sasser said. “I think we helped them along a little bit, but they’re certainly a good team. We all knew that. They have talent all over the field.”
The Bulldogs (6-5, 3-2) face a samiliar opponent in Cummings to open the NCHSAA playoffs Friday. Like Fairmont, Cummings (9-1, 6-0) won its conference — 2A Mid-State — with an unblemished record, and relies on a spread offense that operates at breakneck speed.
“If there are any positives to come out of the Fairmont game, it gave us a preview of what we’ll see this week,” Sasser said.
Lumberton searching for answers offensively
PEMBROKE — Players and fans alike were left scratching their heads after Lumberton was put in a 25-7 stranglehold by rival Purnell Swett last Friday.
After starting the season 7-0, the loss to the Rams marked the Pirates’ third straight loss and fourth outing their offense was held to single digits.
Lumberton’s routinely reliable running game accounted for 150 yards — the majority of those coming in the second half with the game out of reach — while the Pirates’ passing game was limited to just 13. It was Swett’s best defensive effort of the season.
The Pirates managed to evade getting shut out when Daniel Robinson ran in his team-leading eighth touchdown on a 3-yard rush. He has 760 yards on 145 carries this season.
Lumberton (7-3, 2-3) will no doubt be retooling as it heads into Friday’s NCHSAA playoffs. The Pirates travel to Cary (8-2, 6-2), winners of its last four.
Sports editor Kaleb Roedel can be reached at (910) 734-6111 or email@example.com