DILLON, S.C. — Kelly Williamson was looking for effort out of the Lumberton football team on Friday night, and that’s what he got.
In Williamson’s first game as head coach, the Pirates were able to keep Dillon within striking distance in the first half before the Wildcats used several big plays in the second half to earn a 49-20 victory at home.
“Our kids played hard,” Williamson said. “We played well up front, and we needed to play well up front. We gave up some big plays, and you can’t do that against Dillon.”
Nehemiah Squire rushed for 114 yards on 15 carries, while Corrian Wright and Ahmari Higgins-Bruce both registered one touchdown reception for the Wildcats (1-0).
Kawashek Breeden registered 59 yards and a touchdown on three receptions for Lumberton. He also had an 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Lumberton quarterback Braylan Grice finished 14-of-31 with 147 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Tazarie Butler was the Pirates’ leading rusher with 38 yards on 13 attempts.
Penalties were an issue for both teams, as Dillon was hit with 13 infractions for 109 yards, and Lumberton gave up 61 yards on eight penalties.
“It’s our first game,” Williamson said. “It is what it is. I’m proud of our kids. We’ve just got to build on it.”
After Dillon turned the ball over on downs early in the first quarter, Lumberton took over on its own 1-yard line. With the Pirates’ back against the wall, Dillon forced a safety to take a 2-0 lead.
Dillon quarterback Ja’Teil Lester, who completed six of his 14 passes for 182 yards, responded by notching one of his two touchdowns on a 48-yard pass to Wright.
With the Pirates facing a 9-0 deficit, Breeden took the ensuing kickoff 80 yards to the endzone for a touchdown. Lumberton missed its point after touchdown attempt.
Dillon’s Tyquan King scored on a one-yard rush in the second quarter to give the Wildcats a 16-6 lead at halftime.
Dillon added to its lead with a 49-yard touchdown pass from Lester to Huggins-Bruce early in the third quarter.
A four-yard rush by Grice closed Lumberton’s deficit to 23-12, but Squire responded with a six-yard touchdown rush for the Wildcats.
On the next Lumberton possession, Dillon’s Isaiah Benjamin returned a fumble 25 yards for another Dillon touchdown, extending the Wildcats’ lead to 36-12.
After Breeden caught a 21-yard touchdown pass and also received a successful two-point conversion toss in the fourth quarter, Wright returned the next kickoff 79 yards for a touchdown.
Dillon went on to score once more on a 21-yard rush by Lester.
Breeden said there is a specific adjustment Lumberton needs to make in order to recover from the loss.
“It was the mental mistakes,” Breeden said. “If we take care of the mental mistakes, we’ll be good this season.”
Brandon Tester can be reached at [email protected] or 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.