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Bless Your Hearts ECU administrators and trustees. Seems you have a champagne taste for athletics, but are stuck with a...

Chargers strike for 61-0 shelling

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A field goal is scored by Ayden-Grifton during their game against Southside on August 17, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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The Daily Reflector

Friday, August 17, 2018

The only thing hotter than the on-field temperature at game time was the Chargers themselves, as they dominated on both sides of the ball.

Led by a three-touchdown performance by Michael Webb and a two-touchdown night by Ray Darden, Ayden-Grifton rolled to a 61-0 victory to kick off the season on the right foot. The lopsided victory helped to avenge a 26-0 loss last year against Southside to open up the season.

“This was a learning experience for us,” Southside Coach Jeff Carrow said. “We said that we had to watch turnovers and we had five of them tonight. We have to eliminate them if we want to be successful this year,”

The game started off perfectly for the Chargers. A kickoff was mishandled by the Seahawks. A-G’s Tyler Brown fell on it and recovered it on the 19-yard line. Four plays later, Darden took a fourth-and-2 and stormed through a big hole in the middle for a 12-yard touchdown run.

“It’s always a great thing to start a game off like that,” Chargers Coach Paul Cornwell said. “We’ve spent a lot of time on special teams. We feel that can carry the game. We were very successful with that last year. We try to do the little things right and it pays off for us. We blocked a punt, kicked extra points well with a new kicker and recovered a kickoff fumble. The guys took a lot of pride in that.”

On the Seahawks’ first possession, they were knocked back a yard on their first ground attempt. On their first pass, Jeffrey Gunter nearly intercepted the ball. On the very next play, Vito Boyd recovered a fumble for the Chargers. Blake McLawhorn soon found Gunter in the end zone for an eight-yard TD reception to put Ayden-Grifton up 14-0.

When the Chargers got the ball back, they wasted no time in scoring. On second down, Webb took a handoff from McLawhorn and swept to the left side. He stormed down the field, diving into the end zone for a 52-yard touchdown.

“It was a switch call and I saw it late. I was just able to jump onto the ball,” Webb said. “Our intensity was on fire tonight. We came out and had some exciting special team plays and played great on defense.”

Webb found the end zone again on a 15 yd run to the right.

Southside quarterback Will Warren fired off a pass that was intercepted by Webb on the 1-yard line and was returned to midfield. The drive was capped off with an eight-yard run by McLawhorn. The Chargers closed the half with a 25-yard pass from McLawhorn to Webb to put Ayden-Grifton up 41-0.

“The intensity was good,” Cornwell said. “The challenge is always to keep them hungry after halftime. These guys showed a lot of maturity and kept playing hard to the final whistle.”

A 70-yard touchdown run by Webb to open up the second half was called back for a holding penalty. Darden answered that with an 80-yard run on the next play to start the running clock. Darden ended up leading the team with 146 yards and two touchdowns.

“That one was called back and I hoped to get the ball back because I wanted to take it to the house and grab that score back for us,” Darden said. “We had a lot of guys bringing their A-game tonight. Webb stepped it up. The seniors played hard tonight, but the young guys played hard too. Great game.”

— Bryan C. Hanks, The Neuse News

Kinston 28, Farmville 23

Kinston used a three-minute stretch that started at the end of the second quarter and into the opening minutes of the third to overcome a 10-point deficit and defeat Farmville Central, 28-23, in the season-opener for both squads.

The Vikings (1-0) trailed 17-7 following a 25-yard field goal from Zander Gardner with 1:18 remaining before halftime. However, Kieren Hooker connected on a 35-yard pass to Jacel Jacobs with 47 seconds left in the second quarter to close the lead to 17-14 at halftime.

Kinston opened the second half with a five-play, 57-yard drive that culminated with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Hooker to B.J. Luter to take a 21-17 lead. Hooker – who ran for Kinston’s first score in the opening quarter – connected with Khari Pitts in the fourth quarter to push the Vikings lead to 28-17.

Kinston coach Ryan Gieselman said the stretch was key to the win.

“We told our guys at halftime that score right there gave us momentum,” Gieselman said. “We knew if we came out of halftime and scored, we’d be OK.”

The Jaguars (0-1) rallied in the fourth quarter to get within 28-23, but a failed two-point conversion and failed onside kick doomed their comeback.

“It was a war of attrition; we only played with about 26 guys,” FC coach Scott Gardner said. “Our whole defensive line was basically out. … When they came out and started moving the ball on us, the momentum kind of switched.”

Hooker led the way for Kinston, throwing for three scores and running for another. He finished with 116 yards passing and 43 yards rushing for the Vikings, who travel to North Pitt next week.

FC sophomore quarterback Tay Suggs ran for one score and passed for another to lead the Jaguars, who travel to North Lenoir next week.

— Bryan C. Hanks, The Neuse News

J.H. Rose 49, New Hanover 6

Rose quarterback Grant Charles Jarman opened his season in style, slinging five touchdown passes in Rose's blowout win in Wilmington to open the season.

The Rampants held a commanding 35-6 edge at the third-quarter turn before padding their lead with two more scores in the fourth.

South Creek 30, North Pitt 25

The Panthers led early, then regained a narrow 25-24 lead with 37 seconds left on an Alex Johnson touchdown.

A long, late throw by South Creek, however, set up a short touchdown that proved to be the winner. The Panthers (0-1) trailed 18-14 before briefly rallying into the lead.

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