SouthWest Edgecombe earned every bit of its thrilling 56-49 victory Friday night at Kinston.
Cougars coach Raymond Cobb said the officials and timekeepers oversaw clock issues, and there were times during the second half where seconds did not tick off the scoreboard.
Instead of the average 130 plays high school teams usually combine for, Cobb said there were 193 plays in his team’s Eastern Plains Conference opener.
“It felt like we played five quarters,” Cobb said.
It was worth it.
The Cougars snapped a two-game skid and knocked off the league’s 2011 champion, which came into the contest ranked sixth in the N.C. AP 2-A state poll.
SouthWest Edgecombe (2-3, 1-0 EPC) ran for nearly 400 yards. It led by 22 points at halftime but needed a late interception to hold on for the win. Holding leads has been the team’s downfall in its three losses.
“We found a way to beat a good team,” Cobb said. “It’s hard to win at Kinston.”
Rocky Mount Academy
There’s relief at Rocky Mount Academy because after the nearly two years of winless football, the Eagles finally are back in the win column.
“It’s kind of long overdue,” first-year coach B.W. Holt said. “…They were very excited about it. ... It’s a part of getting the program going. We got that out of the way. Now, let’s see if we can win two in a row.”
During much of a winless 2011 season, the Eagles were routinely out of games before the first quarter ended. But on Friday, in a 76-46 victory against Lasker Northeast Academy, the Eagles (1-3) were out of the game in the first quarter again – in a good way.
Rocky Mount Academy scored 30 unanswered points to open the game, and Holt was able to play his entire bench for much of the contest.
Running back Linwood Jones, who left last week with an injury, scored five touchdowns in his first season at Rocky Mount Academy. Jones transferred from Rocky Mount High.
The Eagles had competed in all three of their losses this season, but Friday night was extra important.
“It shows that their hard work has really paid off for them,” Holt said. “ ... It’s very important. That’s why you play. They were excited. Moms and dads were excited. It was good for the Rocky Mount Academy community.”
Rocky Mount High
The Gryphons still haven’t put together four great quarters.
But like Rocky Mount High (5-0) has proven in the past, sometimes three quarters will do just fine.
The Gryphons scored on their opening drive of a 28-14 victory against Greenville Rose and followed that up with two more scores to take a big lead at halftime.
But after Rose scored two touchdowns to pull within one score, running back Mason Hines sealed the victory with a long fourth quarter run.
“They have grown leaps and bounds already, but still have yet to put together four great quarters,” first-year coach Jason Battle said. “I would say I attribute that to our coaches. Our coaches have done a good job of preaching to be committed to be a football player.”
That change started when 85 percent of the team showed up for summer workouts and has continued with five straight victories to start the season.
“You kind of smile and enjoy it when you start to see things come together,” said Battle, who added that the team reads to elementary school students Fridays before games. “It is winning. The ultimate goal is to win games. When you see people buying in to what you are doing, it’s not just football. It’s on the field, and in the classroom as well. It’s all around the school.”
Despite the Firebirds’ first loss of the season, nothing will change in Bailey.
The team still neatly laid its jerseys out on the floor after the game and cleaned up the locker room late Friday night after a 23-13 loss to South Granville.
“You show what you are made of when you go through tough times,” Southern Nash coach Brian Foster said.
As far as Foster is concerned, the Firebirds still are overachieving, even after a loss in which he said they didn’t deserve to win.
“If you told us in the beginning that after five games we would be 4-1, everyone would have laughed at us,” he said.
With everything the Firebirds lost from last season, including their top three running backs, most wouldn’t have expected Southern Nash to compete at the level at which they are.
But the Firebirds were still in Friday night’s loss until the fourth quarter despite committing nearly a dozen penalties and fumbling the ball five times.
“They’re hurting,” Foster said. “They should be hurting. If you put something in to something, you’re going to hurt. I’m hurt. I have to be the leader. There has to be one leader.”
Tarboro remains perfect in record, but coach Jeff Craddock has plenty of examples to show his players from Friday night’s 41-24 victory against North Pitt that they have room for improvement.
Most of the mistakes have been mental errors.
Whether it was jumping offsides on a North Pitt punt or failing to knock down a pass on third-and-30, the Vikings (5-0, 1-0 Eastern Plains) are still working to play their best ball.
“We’re always grateful and appreciative of wins, but it’s becoming a habit where we aren’t making the plays we need to make,” Craddock said. “It’s Week 5, and I’m still seeing some of the same mistakes being made. Sooner or later that catches up with you in a bigger type game.”
Tarboro will enjoy a bye this week and celebrate a big day for its standout player. Senior defensive end Tyquan Lewis will hold a press conference at 4 p.m. Thursday to announce which school he will attend in the fall.
Lewis is deciding between a handful of schools including Ohio State and North Carolina.
Northern Nash could be 5-0 heading into its bye week.
The Knights have been in every game, but after Friday night’s 47-42 loss to Wilmington Laney, Northern Nash’s record sits at 2-3.
Northern Nash’s three losses are by a combined 24 points, and the Knights held leads in each of those contests.
The Knights open Big East Conference play Sept. 28 against Wilson Hunt, and it will take a competitive spirit to outplay the three-time defending league champs.
Coach Mickey Crouch is giving his players Monday and Friday off from practice.
“We’re going to do things Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday against each other that will get the competition up a little bit,” Crouch said.
Though a talent disparity between New Bern and Nash Central certainly existed, the Bulldogs did little to make up the difference by turning over the ball eight times and struggling to throw the ball in their 56-7 loss.
The Bulldogs went 1-for-9 throwing for the second consecutive week, both losses.
“They just really were crashing inside on us, and once again daring us to throw the ball,” Nash Central coach Kevin Crudup said. “We got to find a passing game because we’re going to be facing defenses like that for the rest of the year.”
Nash Central (2-3) has a bye this week before beginning Big East Conference play with a home contest against Rocky Mount High in Week 6.
The Bulldogs have played well in spurts, particularly on defense. Linebackers Jarod Richardson and Collin Staton have made big plays for Nash Central, which is not short on talent.
The problem has been too few kids playing a whole game, Crudup said.
“Most of our kids played hard the whole game (Friday), so I can’t fault them for that,” he said. “But we don’t have enough of them. That’s our biggest thing this year: We don’t have enough kids playing hard all the time.”