New Bern came into Friday night’s game against Nash Central ranked No. 3 in the latest 4-A AP poll.
The Bears needed 54 seconds to validate the ranking, scoring a touchdown on their third play from scrimmage and cruising to a 56-7 defeat of Nash Central at Nash Central High School.
“They’re a good team, a really good team, and we knew we were going to have to play well,” Nash Central coach Kevin Crudup said. “It wasn’t so much the start of the game, we didn’t execute.”
The formula for defeating a highly ranked opponent is to survive the first few drives and avoid crucial errors. Nash Central (2-3) did neither.
New Bern (5-0) needed three plays to move 55 yards for the opening score, finished by a 13-yard run by running back Jacquin Watkins, one of his three first-half touchdowns.
The Bulldogs hampered their opening drive with two penalties, then Watkins struck again with a 57-yard touchdown dash later in the first quarter.
On the Bulldogs’ ensuing drive, Bra’lon Cherry picked off Nash Central backup quarterback Tyler Barrow’s pass and took it 27 yards for a touchdown to make the score 21-0.
Nash Central finished the game with eight turnovers, including two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns.
“We knew we had to control the ball to keep their offense off of the field,” Crudup said. “That was our best form of defense, and we couldn’t keep the ball, plus you have to factor in that we gave them two touchdowns on interceptions.
“The proof really was in the results.”
\New Bern led, 35-0, at halftime, then quickly added another score after Nash Central lost a fumble in its own territory on the first possession of the second half.
Barrow came in and threw a 68-yard touchdown to Jarius Richardson in the third quarter, the Bulldogs’ lone completion of the night.
The 68-yard catch and run more than doubled the Bulldogs’ total yardage they had gained on their first 35 offensive plays from scrimmage.
The Bulldogs open Big East Conference play after a bye next week.