FAYETTEVILLE — Purnell Swett coach Jon Sherman has seen two sides of his team in the early stages of the season. A side that folds when adversity strikes and a side that perseveres. Friday night, his team chose the latter and notched its second win of the season, beating Douglas Byrd on the road 21-13.
“I felt like Pine Forest hit us in the mouth and we took a blow, and went to the ground,” Sherman said. “So, I felt like here…we took it to the chin and came right back.”
Rams (2-1) wide receiver Chandler Brayboy was an integral part of the team’s resiliency, scoring all three of their touchdowns. He ignited an early rally with two quick touchdowns. The first score came on their opening possession when he leaped over a Douglas Byrd defender to haul in a 38-yard pass on a fourth-and-5. The second came just minutes later when the senior wideout took a jet-sweep handoff around the edge for a 10-yard touchdown.
The Eagles overcame the early 14-0 deficit and used a sack by Domion Evans to spark a 13-0 run in the second quarter. After the sack, running back Earlee Melvin, who rushed for 209 yards and two touchdowns, implored his teammates on the sideline to fight back. Then, he led by example, scoring two straight touchdowns of 27 and 65 yards, respectively.
Eagles coach Mike Paroli appreciated his senior leader’s heart despite the difficult task of playing against Brayboy.
“[Melvin] is a very emotional player and he’s used to winning,” Paroli said. “When you’re playing against somebody like [Brayboy], he makes you pay if you’re not where you’re supposed to be.”
Brayboy made the Eagles “pay” on both sides of the ball in the second half. Although he scored again on a 7-yard run in the early stages of the fourth quarter to put the Rams up 21-13, it was his defensive effort in the second half that guided the team to victory.
He credited his coach for the scheme change coming out the halftime huddle.
“Coach came to me at halftime and said, ‘You’re the guy that’s going to stop [Melvin],’” Brayboy said.
That’s exactly how the second half played out as the Rams star shadowed the Eagles’ stud from his secondary position. After surpassing 150 yards in the first half, Melvin was held just under 50 yards in the second half.
Swett takes a bye week then hosts Hoggard next week.
Donnell Coley can be reached at 910-416-5165 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Sportsinmyveins.