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SWE storms to win in Eastern Plains opener

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SouthWest Edgecombe quarterback Jayden Lewis, right, fends off North Pitt's Demetrious Cain during a run Friday at SouthWest Edgecombe High School. Lewis fumbled and turned the ball over on the play.

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By PATRICK MASON
Sports Writer

Friday, October 5, 2018

PINETOPS — If a team has attempted a pass against SouthWest Edgecombe over the past two seasons, there’s a good chance the ball was thrown in Michael Hussey’s direction.

The Cougars cornerback might look like an easy target. After all, the junior is listed at 5-foot-5 on the roster.

And on Friday in SWE’s 53-20 win over visiting North Pitt in the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference opener, the Panthers threw at Hussey early. Thing is, Hussey was ready. He’s already ready, waiting for his chance to make a play.

“Every team that throws the ball that we’ve played attempts it,” Cougars coach Jonathan Cobb said. “For two years, last year and this year, they throw at him. And he does a good job. He’s an excellent run support guy because he’s a good tackler, and in pass defense he knows he has to be in perfect position because he’s giving up a lot of height.”

Hussey was in perfect position defending a deep route that led to his first interception of the season. North Pitt, trailing 18-0 after the first quarter, figured it would try to catch the Cougars out of position on a fourth-and-six situation from the SWE 35.

North Pitt (0-7, 0-1) quarterback Alex Johnson couldn’t get the ball to his receiver as Hussey jumped in front of the pass and came down with the pick.

“I don’t have any height so everybody thinks I’m an easy target because I’m small,” Hussey said. “But I use that to my advantage and make sure I can do what I can do, and that motivates me. I’m confident in myself in doing what I can do, and I believe I can do anything I want to on the field.”

Hussey was also sharp in run defense for SWE (5-1, 1-0), bottling up running plays before they were able to turn the corner.

“Most of the time I know I’m OK because no one can get smaller than me,” Hussey said. “I get lower than everybody else and no one can get by me.”

The Cougars defense was sharp in the first half and was good enough to keep the Panthers off the scoreboard for a 33-0 halftime lead. SWE, playing reserves for much of the second half, allowed an 81-yard touchdown run and a kick return touchdown.

Three things

1. The Cougars got back to their running ways as seven SWE runners gained at least 40 yards in the win.

Davareyae Pride led the way with 121 rushing yards, while Cortezz Jones added 81 yards and two touchdowns. Jelan Smith added 44 yards and the game’s opening touchdown, with Jayden Lewis, Zykei Callahan, Tayshaun Pittman and Ray Wooten each scoring once.

2. The familiar sight of Tanner Wittig lining up for extra-point kicks could be no more. The Cougars have found themselves a kicker.

Hunter Hopkins, a soccer player, was eligible to play for the first time this season and made a trio of extra-point kicks. The Cougars had been looking for a kicker throughout the season, and after Hopkins’ strong debut, the team won’t have to search any longer.

“I asked the soccer coach about a month ago if he had any kickers,” Cobb said. “For two weeks now he’s been coming to practice. We finally got him in enough days in pads, and tonight was the first night we could use him.”

3. SWE fullback Jordan Clayton went down with an injury early in the first quarter. Cobb looked for ways to make up for that loss of production and got creative.

Quarterback Jayden Lewis threw for a touchdown in the first quarter, an 18-yard jump ball to Keishon Porter. But Lewis shifted to a runner much of the game after getting early passes out of the way.

Backup quarterback Wooten played under center for much of the second half, and Lewis was even used as a running back in a number of offensive formations. Lewis ran for 42 yards, while Wooten attempted two passes and ran for 41 yards.

“Ray, the last three weeks he’s got a lot of play,” Cobb said. “He played a couple quarters the past two games, and we were able to get him some reps tonight, too.”

He said it

“Everybody always sizes me up,” Hussey said. “So it’s fun coming in every game knowing they’re sizing me up, looking my way. I hear it all the time so it’s nothing new.”

Scoring plays

First quarter

SWE — Jelan Smith 9 run (kick failed), 6:56

SWE — Cortezz Jones 68 run (pass failed), 3:30

SWE — Keishon Porter 18 pass from Jayden Lewis (run failed), 3:19

Second quarter

SWE — Zykei Callahan 2 run (Tayshaun Pittman run), 4:18

SWE — Lewis 8 run (Hunter Hopkins kick), 1:13

Third quarter

SWE — Pittman 1 run (Hopkins kick), 4:19

NP — Raheem Jones 29 run (kick good), 1:19

Fourth quarter

SWE — Ray Wooten 2 run (Hopkins kick), 10:41

NP — Jones 81 run (pass failed), 10:25

SWE — Jones 9 run (kick failed), 2:42

NP — Daquan Wood 82 kick return (kick good), 2:27

Up next

SouthWest Edgecombe at Nash Central, 7 p.m. Friday. Wilson Beddingfield at North Pitt, 7 p.m. Friday.

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