PINETOPS – Two men on the opposite end of the coaching spectrum stood across the field before kickoff at SouthWest Edgecombe High School.
One, Raymond Cobb, has nearly three decades of head coaching experience.
The other, Jason Battle, had just three games.
On Friday night, Battle beat Cobb at his own game: Ball control.
And with the help of one late trick, Rocky Mount High surpassed its win total from last season with a 33-24 victory.
“They kind of took what we do,” SouthWest Edgecombe coach Raymond Cobb said. “They kept our offense off the field.”
SouthWest Edgecombe (1-3) had an answer for each Rocky Mount High drive.
Every Gryphons score immediately was countered by the Cougars, who were more explosive than time consuming.
Until one little trick play.
After the Gryphons went ahead by three on a Mason Hines’ touchdown, place-kicker Micah Varnell squibbed the ball down the Rocky Mount High sideline – right into Brodrick Clark’s lane.
The junior’s eyes grew big as he keyed in on the open ball. Clark hadn’t touched the ball all season, but he pounced on it with seconds to play, stood up and with his eyes wide open swiped his fist across his chest – he calls it the 'Brod.’
“You just have to step up when it’s your turn,” Clark said. “That can be the biggest play of the game.”
But Clark wouldn’t have been in position to make a play without a dominating Gryphons’ running game behind an offensive line that is starting to become a physical force.
“We want to be physical,” said Jason Battle, who won the first road game of his head coaching career. “... Our goal was to keep their offense off the field. When they get it, you don’t know how long until you get it again.”
Five different players rushed for at least 35 yards, but when crunch time came, everyone knew the ball would find its way into Mason Hines’ hands.
Hines had just 60 yards on 13 carries in the first half. In the second half, he carried the ball 14 times for 89 yards, including six times on the eventual game-winning drive.
“They expect me to make big plays,” Hines said. “If they expect me to do it, I have to do it.”
Rocky Mount High 33
SouthWest Edgecombe 24
RMH 7 7 0 19 – 33
SWE 8 8 0 8 – 24
RMH – Rashawn Harris 4 run (Micah Varnell kick), 6:25
SWE – Devante Williams 10 run (Gerald Hinton run), 4:05
RMH – Tyrell Williams 2 run (Varnell kick), 5:05
SWE – Barry Smith 20 run (Hinton run), 2:49
RMH – Ahmad Harrell 34 run (kick failed), 11:53
SWE – Quay Wooten 3 run (Wotten run), 8:03
RMH – Mason Hines 1 run (Varnell kick), 1:56
RMH – Williams 2 run (pass failed), :55.7
21 First downs..............15
21 Passing yards..........0
382 Total offense...........265
Rushing – RMH: Mason Hines 27-149; Tyrell Williams 16-59; Ahmad Harrell 4-46; Broderick Caudle 5-44; Rashawn Harris 6-38; Joseph Cooper 3-24; J.T. Smith 2-1. SWE: Gerald Hinton 13-96; Barry Smith 8-75; Devante Williams 8-74; Quay Wooten 3-15; Devontrell Hyman 1-6.
Passing – RMH: Smith 2-7-0 21. SWE: Wooten 0-4-0 0.
Receiving – RMH: Darius Lee 1-21; Michael Hines 1-0.
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or email@example.com