SouthWest Edgecombe shuts down Nash Central

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SouthWest Edgecombe's Dashon Bandy, right, looks for room to run on a punt return Friday during the game against Nash Central at SouthWest Edgecombe High School.


Sports Writer

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Dashon Bandy took a moment before outlining a scouting report for himself.

“I know I have both disadvantages and advantages,” the SouthWest Edgecombe running back said. “I’m not real big, I know that. So I have to find other ways to help this team, and I think that’s my speed.”

Bandy the scout was right, because Bandy the running back showed off that elite speed on Friday in a 2-A Eastern Plains Conference game against visiting Nash Central. His three rushing touchdowns led the Cougars to a 24-14 win.

The game featured a pair of teams that had their eyes on a conference title, and the Cougars remained on on track to do so.

All season, the Bulldogs have used their quick-scoring offense to bury teams early. The Cougars, however, didn’t budge on defense and turned in quick scores of their own. And Bandy was the spark that set it off.

The 5-foot-9, 160-pound junior ran for scores of 30, 33 and 49 yards and finished with a game-high 160 yards on the ground. He also added an interception in the first quarter.

“I had good vision today and when the great blocking we had up front opened a hole I went right through it,” Bandy said. “This was a big game for us, and we didn’t want to let it go. I turned it on and tried to do my part.”

While Bandy dazzled with big runs, fellow running back Alex Foster picked up positive yardage on 15 of his 18 carries. He ran right through a worn-out Nash Central defense in the second half to record 101 yards on the ground, after totaling 36 in the first half.

The Cougars have found ways to be successful, even when their opponent knows a rushing play is on the way. SWE (7-1, 2-0) finished with 318 rushing yards, despite completing one pass.

Nash Central (6-2, 1-1) was hurt by penalties and dropped passes. Quarterback Travis Griffin finished 8 of 19 with two interceptions and 72 yards, though at least five of his passes were dropped by a normally reliable receiving corps.

“It was a sorry game all around,” Nash Central coach Chris Lee said. “Right now we just have to make sure we don’t carry this loss into the coming weeks.”

The Bulldogs took a 7-6 lead into halftime, surviving a mistake-filled 24 minutes that included throwing a pair of interceptions and a lost fumble. Nash Central got a stop right out of the break, then needed just one play to take a 14-6 lead when Byron Hawkins raced for a 62-yard score.

The Cougars didn’t allow anything else as they turned in a dominant defensive effort and shut down any chance at a Nash Central comeback. The SWE defensive line spent all week perfecting a pass rush that hasn’t been consistent all season.

SWE has played at least three teams that ran spread offenses like Nash Central’s, and too often the quarterback had time to make plays downfield. Not on Friday.

Griffin was sacked five times in the game, including three times in the final two drives on third and fourth downs. Cougars coach Jonathan Cobb thought his team matched up well against the Bulldogs, and credited his front seven for beating the Bulldogs’ offensive line in crucial situations.

“We got after it in practice all week,” SWE linebacker Jaylyn Goins said. “Everyone did a good job of sticking to their spots and getting in passing lanes, and that gave us some time to get the quarterback on the ground.

“We wanted this one bad. In the fourth quarter everyone is tired, but we pushed it aside and made the plays we needed to.”

Goins sacked Griffin on fourth and 10 to end the Bulldogs final drive and seal the win.

Nash Central 0 7 7 0 - 14

SWE 0 6 8 10 - 24

Second quarter

NC - McKinley Lyons 4 run (Landon Alford kick), 7:51

SWE - Dashon Bandy 30 run (kick failed), 6:42

Third quarter

NC - Byron Hawkins 62 run (Alford kick), 9:14

SWE - Bandy 33 run (Darshaun Spragley run), 3:27

Fourth quarter

SWE - Bandy 49 run (Dillon Garbrandt kick), 10:19

SWE - Garbrandt 25 FG, 2:58