When a football program has been struggling, and nothing seems to be going right, a victory can alter the course of a season and change the outlook of players, coaches and fans.
For the Nash Central Bulldogs that breakthrough win will have to wait at least one more week as the Kinston Vikings rolled to a 41-12 nonconference victory Thursday night.
Behind the hard-nosed running of junior Tavon Herns, and the big-play ability of junior wideout Anthony Berry, the Vikings were never threatened as they improved to 2-0 and dropped the Bulldogs to 0-2.
Berry began the Vikings onslaught scoring on a 20-yard sweep with 7:25 to go in the first quarter, and following a three-and-out by the Bulldogs, Berry found paydirt once again, scoring on a 34-yard punt return to put the Bulldogs in a 14-0 hole just seven minutes into the game.
The Nash Central defense seemed to find its footing and kept the Bulldogs in the game for the remainder of the half despite constantly finding the Vikings beginning drives on the Nash Central side of the field.
The Vikings’ average starting field position on their six first-half drives was the 50 yard line, but the Bulldogs stayed competitive due to outstanding play by their defensive line, an interception by sophomore defensive back Najee King-Knight and a fumble recovery by senior outside linebacker Michael Morris.
Morris’ recovery came with less than two minutes remaining in the first half and seemed to keep the Bulldogs in position to only be down by two scores going into halftime.
However, on the last play of the first half, the Vikings came through with the play that brought momentum back to their side as senior cornerback Christopher Williams intercepted Bulldogs’ quarterback Corey Pearce and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown.
Julian Quintero’s PAT gave the Vikings a 21-0 lead at the break. Nash Central found a glimmer of hope in the second half as junior running back Charles Harvey cut the Kinston lead to 21-6 with a 12 yard touchdown run with 8:16 remaining in the third quarter. The Vikings, who have won at least seven games for seven consecutive years, responded immediately by driving 60 yards in five plays and scoring on Herns’ 1-yard touchdown.
Herns provided the big play of the drive with a 38 yard run down to the Bulldog five yard line.
Kinston padded its lead in the fourth quarter, scoring on a 43-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Thomas Vermillion to Kam’ryn Webster, and Webster’s 2-yard touchdown run midway through the period.
Morris completed the scoring as he ran 34 yards for a Nash Central touchdown on the game’s final play. Despite the loss, Nash Central coach Kevin Crudup continued to urge his team to stick together and improve.
“We have to play with pride and hold each other accountable,” Crudup said. “That is what’s going to turn this around for us.”