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Nash Central scores in bunches to beat North Edgecombe

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North Edgecombe's Devonte Barnes is tackled by Nash Central's Kayson Lassiter Friday at Nash Central. Barnes had a game-high 96 rushing yards.

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By PATRICK MASON
Sports Writer

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Nash Central football team had already scored two touchdowns by the time it ran its second offensive play.

The Bulldogs weren’t messing around in their Week 1 opener against visiting North Edgecombe, and had the game out of reach by halftime in a 55-6 win.

Vinsa Phillips got the Bulldogs (1-0) going by returning the opening kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown. Phillips raced down the sideline and scored untouched, a glimpse into what was to come. As soon as the Bulldogs got the ball back, quarterback Travis Griffin connected with receiver Jay Smith who blew past the Warriors defense for a 49-yard touchdown. 

“That had us turned up,” running back Byron Hawkins said. “It felt wonderful. To see Vinsa take the kick back, then we score right away on offense. It loosened everything up for us.”

That early spark sure took pressure off Hawkins, who in his first varisty game scored a pair of touchdowns. His speed allowed him to pick up yards in big chunks, finishing with 56 yards on four carries.

“Byron had a death in the family and missed some practice time and lost his starting role,” Bulldogs coach Chris Lee said. “We used him to spell Kendall (Winston), and he’ll probably be starting next week. He’s another guy defenses have to watch for.”

Hawkins missed the first week of official practices to attend his grandmother’s funeral in Washington D.C. Upon returning to the team, he had lost his starting spot and fell behind in preparation.

“I didn’t know any plays,” Hawkins said. “I had to catch up learning everything and compete for my spot again all while trying to adjust to the speed of the game at the varsity level. There was a point where I didn’t feel like I was a part of the team.”

The junior put those worries to rest in Week 1, showing himself as a capable runner and receiver. He caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Griffin, then ran for a 35-yard score three minutes later to put Nash Central up 49-6 by halftime.

The Warriors were competitive early, however, and answered the opening kick return with their best drive of the game. Relying on a power rushing attack, North Edgecombe used a 13-play drive that used almost seven minutes of the clock to go 66 yards. Returning 1,000-yard rusher Devonte Barnes ran for 45 of those yards, and Daquarious Perry finished the drive with a 1-yard run to tie the score at 6-6.

Barnes finished with a game-high 96 yards on 15 carries, but North Edgecombe couldn’t replicate that drive and fell into a cycle of miscues and turnovers. The Warriors lost four fumbles, and had trouble on special teams.

“We were subbing guys in and out up front and a lot of the time we had freshman and sophomores out there,” Warriors coach Keith Parisher said. “We couldn’t make the necessary adjustments. The guys play fine in practice, but doing it under these lights on Friday, as a young player, if a different story.”

Nash Central got three total touchdowns from Griffin, two apiece from Hawkins and McKinley Lyons, and a Winston score midway through the fourth quarter capped the scoring. Griffin finished 4-for-4 passing for 87 yards, and picked up 50 yards on the ground. He didn’t play in the second half.

“He threw it well,” Lee said of Griffin. “He took off running a couple times when he maybe had some more time. We’re working on passing out of the pocket, but he made some good plays. He put a lot of work in during the offseason on his own and it’s showing.”

Nash Central 55

North Edgecombe 6

NE 6 0 0 0 - 6

NC 14 35 0 6 - 55

First quarter

NC - Vinsa Phillips 75 kick return (kick failed), 11:48

NE - Daquarious Perry 1 run (run failed), 4:24

NC - Jay Smith 49 pass from Travis Griffin (McKinley Lyons run), 4:10

Second quarter

NC - Lyons 3 run (Landon Alford kick), 11:53

NC - Lyons 6 run (Alford kick), 8:29

NC - Griffin 2 run (Alford kick), 7:00

NC - Byron Hawkins 15 pass from Griffin (Alford kick), 4:12

NC - Hawkins 35 run (Alford kick), 1:31

Fourth quarter

NC - Kendall Winston 4 run (kick failed), 8:24

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING - North Edgecombe:Devonte Barnes 15-96, Jamoryon Bryant 3-3, Daquarious Perry 13-19, Mark Williams Jr. 8-23, Greg Tillery 4-(minus 21). Nash Central: McKinley Lyons 4-30, Travis Griffin 4-50, Byron Hawkins 4-56, Israel Brown 1-7, Kendall Winston 5-38, Vinsa Phillips 1-(minus 1), Chris High 1-(minus 10).

PASSING - North Edgecombe: Tillery 1-4-0, 25 yards. Nash Central: Griffin 4-4-0, 87 yards.

RECEIVING - North Edgecombe: Deyon White 1-25. Nash Central: Jay Smith 1-49, Tarod Brown 1-9, Lyons 1-14, Hawkins 1-15.

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