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Nash Central too much for Gryphons

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Nash Central's McKinley Lyons hauls in a pass from quarterback Travis Griffin to score a 21-yard touchdown Friday during the game against Rocky Mount High at Rocky Mount High School.

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By PATRICK MASON
Sports Writer

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Nash Central football coach Chris Lee has talked about working with quarterback Travis Griffin on staying in the pocket longer rather than taking off to run at the first sign of pressure. It’s been a successful endeavor as Griffin and his receivers have shined this season.

Sometimes, however, the big quarterback has to run, and that’s just what Griffin did against host Rocky Mount High. It was Griffin’s diving touchdown on fourth down from a yard out late in Friday’s game that put the score out of reach in a 35-26 win. It was the first time the Bulldogs beat RMH since 2011.

“You just have to get a good hold of it and go,” Griffin said of his 1-yard sneak. “My guys told me they got me, and you just go with it.”

Griffin kept the Bulldogs moving forward as he rushed for 56 yards, including a pair of touchdowns, and passed for 168 yards and a touchdown to McKinley Lyons.

The Bulldogs (5-1) totaled 354 yards and found ways to get all of their playmakers involved. Receiver Jay Smith, who entered the game with 500 receiving yards, added 50 more on a pair of catches. Tarod Brown caught three passes for 32 yards, including a crucial catch on third down to keep a late drive alive.

Nash Central was too much for its former 3-A Big East Conference foe, and it heads into 2-A Eastern Plains play in two weeks looking strong as ever.

RMH, meanwhile, is headed in the other direction. The Gryphons enter conference play against Franklinton with a number of issues to sort out.

The Gryphons (1-4) had trouble with turnovers. They lost four fumbles, two in each half, including one that was returned for a touchdown by Nash Central’s Reggie Johnson. The junior defensive tackle scooped up the ball and scored as RMH was backed up at its own 7 midway through the third to go up 28-12.

“As soon as it hit the ground, I saw it and was thinking touchdown,” Johnson said. “I don’t think we did anything special, nothing we don’t normally do. They just kept putting the ball on the ground.”

The Bulldogs’ turned three of those four fumbles into touchdowns. Gryphons coach Jason Battle said it is hard to win with that many turnovers.

“The turnovers are a problem,” Battle said. “Any way we can, we seemed to shoot ourselves in the foot.”

Running back Jalen Watson was the goods for the Gryphons as he ran for a game-high 124 yards. His steady play helped RMH hang around long enough to make for an interesting ending.

Nash Central had its own bouts with fumbles, losing two in the second half which the Gryphons turned into 14 points. A Lyons fumble early in the fourth quarter set up a Gryphons comeback, a staple of last season’s state runners-up squad.

Quarterback Jaquan Lynch found receiver Shyheim Battle for a 34-yard strike to cut the deficit to 28-18 with 10:20 remaining. On the ensuing Bulldogs’ drive, Rodell Bridges returned a fumble all the way to the 2-yard line to set up a touchdown run by De’Trell Revis.

Revis’ score put RMH within 28-26. But the Gryphons defense couldn’t get a stop on fourth down as Griffin capped a 73-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.

“We really wanted this one at their place,” Johnson said. “We’re building on our wins and feeling really confident right now.”

N. Central 35

RMH 26

RMH   6   6   0   14   -   26

NC   6   14   8   7   -   35

First quarter

NC - McKinley Lyons 2 run (run failed), 7:38

RMH - Charlie Williams III 3 run (kick failed), 2:56

Second quarter

NC - Lyons 21 pass from Travis Griffin (Landon Alford kick), 8:06

RMH - Jaquan Lynch 1 run (kick failed), 7:32

NC - Griffin 9 run (Alford kick), 1:04

Third quarter

NC - Reggie Johnson 7 fumble return (pass good), 5:27

Fourth quarter

RMH - Shyheim Battle 34 pass from Lynch (pass failed), 10:20

RMH - De’Trell Revis 7 run (Revis run), 6:05

NC - Griffin 1 run (Alford kick), 1:31

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING - Nash Central: Travis Griffin 14-56, McKinley Lyons 13-58, Byron Hawkins 6-36, Kendall Winston 7-32, Alex Nobles 3-4. Totals: 43-186. RMH: Jalen Watson 17-124, Charlie Williams III 4-17, Tyrese Gilliam 2-18, Jaquan Lynch 5-26, Donomesion Brown 4-4, Tashaun Lawrence 1-8, De’Trell Revis 1-7. Totals: 34-204.

PASSING - Nash Central: Griffin 10-19-2, 168 yards. RMH: Lynch 4-15-0, 51 yards.

RECEIVING - Nash Central: Hawkins 3-55, Jay Smith 2-50, Lyons 1-21, Tarod Brown 3-32, Winston 1-10. RMH: Brown 1-7, Williams 1-2, Revis 1-8, Shyheim Battle 1-34.

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