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Falcons complete 14 point second half comeback against Rams

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Greene Central's Knowledge Branch, top, jumps over teammates while running the ball during a game against South Central on Aug. 23, 2019.


By Laieke Abebe
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, August 24, 2019

The resolve of defending Eastern Carolina 3A/4A champion South Central showed Friday, as the Falcons mounted a furious two touchdown comeback to edge Greene Central for the second straight year, 29-28.

GC first-year head coach Jay Wilson’s varsity football coaching debut didn’t feature the result the Rams wanted, but there were a lot of good things for his team to feel good about.

“Obviously, it’s frustrating to come up short with how well we played,” Wilson said. “I saw a lot of things we can build on from tonight. We did made some mistakes we need to correct, but I’m proud of my guys for their effort. It’s a learning experience for us and hopefully we can finish in the fourth quarter next week.”

After senior Zakvil Smith’s punt pinned the Falcons inside the five yard line, the Rams forced a safety when senior linebacker Quantavious Horne made a huge end zone tackle with 2:32 left in the opening quarter. A Jayden Willis interception put the Rams in the Falcons red zone early in the second quarter before a lightning delay forced both teams to exit the field.

When the game resumed about 45 minutes later, the Rams failed to score off the turnover. The defense came to play as the Falcons couldn’t get anything going until late in the first half. Cole Dawson found Smith on a 32 yard touchdown pass to make it 10-0 midway through the second.

The Falcons would answer with a Zyaire Williams one-yard rushing touchdown before the half. Greene Central would force a three and out to start the second half, but they were pinned inside the 10. That’s when Dawson found Smith again for a 78-yard pass and catch down to the 15.

Knowledge Branch scored the first of his two rushing touchdowns on the next play. After a fumble recovery on the ensuing possession by Hezekiah Pagan, the Rams junior running back scored from eight yards out on third and goal to make it 22-8 late in the third.

However, the Falcons wouldn’t go away. Williams scored again for the Falcons on a 17 yard run late in the third to make it a one possession game. After a Rams three and out, Kevone Harris’ 29 yard touchdown and two point conversion tied the game at 22 early in the fourth.

The Rams answered with a touchdown drive of their own as Dawson found Lamar Pridgen for a 17-yard strike to regain the lead, but they failed to score the two-point conversion.

That would come into play on the next drive. With 4:33 left in regulation and on third-and-12 from their own 34, Falcons senior quarterback Justin Humphries found Jyquan Sheppard for a 66-yard touchdown that wound up being the game winner.

“My teammates are tough and they don’t quit,” Humphries said after the game. “Everyone picked each other up tonight and we gave our best effort in the second half. We always want to be 1-0 on Friday night and thankfully, we achieved that goal. Now, we have to keep that up.”

Greene Central got stopped on fourth down late in the game, but they did have one last chance to get the winning score. Unfortunately, the Hail Mary fell well short of the end zone and it was a bitter defeat for the Rams.

“They’re a physical, athletic, and well coached team,” Falcons head coach Andy Tew said about the Rams. “I’m happy that my team fought back from the big deficit, but we were fortunate to get the win tonight. (Greene Central) is going to have a really good season and this was a great test for my team.”

The Rams (0-1) face C.B. Aycock next Friday in their home opener. Meanwhile, the Falcons (1-0) travel to face West Craven next week.

Follow Laieke Abebe on twitter at @LMAPreps.


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