TARBORO – The last time Tarboro opened the season with a loss, the Vikings managed to rebound and win a state title.
Friday night, Vikings’ coach Jeff Craddock didn’t want to take that risk, again. Craddock wasn’t going to let Tarboro lose to a Nash Central program that went winless last season.
And they didn’t.
Deshan Farmer ran for 112 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Vikings past Nash Central, 33-6, at home in the opening night of the season.
“It’s good to open with a win,” Craddock said. “It’s always great to be 1-0, rather than 0-1.”
In a game that featured plenty of miscues from both teams, it was Farmer who showed mid-season form.
The senior running back opened the scoring early in the first quarter with a 30-yard touchdown and followed it up with an 8-yard touchdown.
The Vikings built a 14-0 lead and looked poised to cruise to an easy victory, but the Bulldogs weren’t ready to accept another loss.
After Tarboro failed to convert a fake punt inside its own 20-yard line, Charles Harvey scored on a 1-yard touchdown run.
The points ignited the Bulldogs’ bench, but the momentum was short lived.
Farmer scored his third touchdown of the night, and the Bulldogs never recovered.
Sophomore quarterback Corey Pearce was intercepted in the second half, and the offense began to mimic the struggles from last season.
“If we could have eliminated the errors and different mistakes, this would have been a different ball game,” Nash Central coach Kevin Crudup said after his 14th straight loss.
Tarboro on the other hand, was able to move the ball with ease. Farmer and senior fullback Markese Clapp took the pressure off sophomore quarterback Dawson Harris, who was making his first career start, which according to Craddock, was the difference.
“He’s a team leader,” Craddock said of Farmer. “I expect him to take the load off the team and he did. He’s been here under the lights, and it showed. He made some nice runs and kept his composure, which we need.”
While the win signifies that start of another campaign for the Vikings that has visions of a state title, Craddock said the biggest impact of Friday’s win, was the message it will send to his locker room. The Vikings can now move on from last season’s third-round playoff loss and look to their next opponent.
“It’s nice to come out here nine months later and erase that bad taste. We’re an inexperienced football team. We don’t have star power, we just have a bunch of hard-nosed kids. We needed this for confidence,” Craddock said.
Nash Central 6
NC 0 6 0 0 – 6
T 14 7 0 12 – 33
T – Deshan Farmer 30 run (kick fail), 7:27
T – Deshan Farmer 8 run (Tay Battle run), 0:08
NC – Chalres Harvey 1 run (run fail), 3:26
T – Deshan Farmer 15 run (Harris kick), 0:54
T – Daniel Lewis 5 run (kick fail), 6:17
T – Damian Johnson 11 run (kick fail), 3:42
8 First downs..................14
42 Passing yards........9
184 Total offense.........278
Rushing – T: Deshan Farmer 15-112; Markese Clapp 6-44; Tay Battle 8-41; Daniel Lewis 6-37; Malcom Speller 3-18; Damian Johnson 2-16; Janaill Battle-Johnson 1-15; Shamar Pippen 1-2. NC: Jonquail Jones 6-70; Charles Harvey 6-37; Corey Pearce 7-21; Myles Lane 3-13; Dekalon Stample 1-4; D’Marko Brown 2-(-1).
Passing – T: Dawson Harris 1-1, 9. NC: Corey Pearce 4-10, 42; D’Marko Brown 0-1.
Receiving – T: TJ Powell 1-9. NC: Jonquail Jones 3-23; Najee King-Knight 1-19.
Andrew Ivins can be reached at 407-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org