Football -- Hawks suffer defeat against Bruins
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on August 22, 2004 2:00 AM
WILSON -- Even though North Lenoir made drastic improvements on both sides of the ball in the second half against Wilson Beddingfield, Hawks coach Wayne Jackson doesn't like the idea of a moral victory -- even in a season opener.
Keyed by strong running by E.J. Brown and Ervin Atkins, North Lenoir bounced back from a sluggish first half and outgained a fatigued Bruins' team 176-69 in the second half of their season-openign game with the Bruins. North Lenoir had nine first downs in the second half after picking up five in the first.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, it didn't translate into any points as Beddingfield made its 21-7 halftime stick until the final horn.
"There are no moral victories in this game. You either win or you lose," Jackson said. "We lost tonight, and we were outcoached tonight."
Trailing by two touchdowns early in the fourth period, it looked as if North Lenoir (0-1) was poised to steal the momentum.
On a drive that started with over four minutes left in the third, the Hawks methodically moved into Bruin territory. Facing fourth-and-13 at the 34-yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter, Brown ran for first-down yardage. A crucial holding penalty was called against the Hawks on the play -- bringing the run back.
On the next play, North Lenoir turned it over on downs.
The Hawks forced a fumble on Beddingfield's next drive and drove deep again midway through the fourth. Brown, who finished with 73 yards on 12 carries, gained 40 yards on a possession that moved the Hawks to the Bruin eight. On third down and short, North Lenoir backup quarterback Josh Joyner's pass was picked off by Beddingfield's Javonte Gaitwood, who brought back well past midfield.
That play, along with a bend-but-don't-break defense in the second half, helped Bruin coach Tom Nelson improve to 3-0 in season openers.
Several of Nelson's players -- including quarterback Bennett Johnson -- suffered from cramps in the mid-August humidity. Nelson felt fortunate the game didn't take a turn for the worse.
"It's so dreadfully hot and sticky out here. I guess we aren't in great shape yet," Nelson said. "We had a bunch of kids with cramps, and we sputtered offensively. North Lenoir played hard, and they've got some kids with speed. We are very thankful for giving up seven points against that team."
The first half obviously has something to do with Nelson's win streak continuing as well.
The Hawks' defense had no answer for the Bruins' effective mixture of run-and-pass before intermission. Johnson, who finished with 166 yards through the air, connected on his first seven passes to a host of receivers -- resulting in 154 yards of offense. From the slot position, Jerry Atkinson caught two touchdowns in the first half, the last being a 44-yard score with just under five minutes in the first half.
Atkinson, who had 112 yards of total offense, added a two-yard rushing score late in the first quarter to give Beddingfield a 14-0 lead.
Midway through the second quarter, Atkins caught a 13-yard strike from Andrew Manning to tally the only touchdown of the game for the Hawks, who managed just 103 yards of offense in the first half and punted four times. Atkins added 73 yards on the ground on 12 carries for the game.
Conversely, Beddingfield gained 240 yards in the first half with 11 first downs and no punts. Gynorris King picked up a game-high 86 yards on 22 carries for the Bruins.
North Lenoir's leading rusher last year, Antonio Hamilton, didn't start by a coaches' decision. He finished with 13 carries for 43 yards.
The Hawks host East Duplin next Friday in Wheat Swamp, while the Bruins travel to Snow Hill to take on Greene Central.
"Maybe we decided we wanted to play football in the second half," Jackson said. "We've got to improve in every facet of the game. We've just got to get better at it."
North Lenoir 0 7 0 0 -- 21
Beddingfield 14 7 0 0 -- 7
WB -- Atkinson 13 pass from Johnson (Barron pass from Atkinson), 7:16
WB -- Atkinson 2 run (kick failed), 1:36
NL -- Atkins 13 pass from Manning (Baird kick), 7:36
WB -- Atkinson 44 pass from Johnson (Arizpe kick), 4:45
First downs 14 15
Rushes-yds 42-251 40-271
Passing yds 28 166
Total yards 279 437
Att.-Comp.-Int. 5-9-1 9-12-0
Fumbles-lost 4-1 1-1
Punts-avg. 5-33.4 2-19.5
Penalties-yds. 5-30 8-60
RUSHING -- North Lenoir -- E.J. Brown 8-90; Ervin Atkins 12-73; Eric Whitfield 5-52; Antonio Hamilton 13-43; Josh Joyner 1-4; Andrew Manning 2-(-8). Beddingfield -- Gynorris King 22-86; Jerry Atkinson 14-55, TD; Drako Butler 2-8; Bennett Johnson 2-(-7).
PASSING -- North Lenoir -- Andrew Manning 5-9-0 28; Josh Joyner 0-1-1 0. Beddingfield -- Bennett Johnson 9-12-0 166, 2 TD.
RECEIVING -- North Lenoir -- Ervin Atkins 3-21, TD; E.J. Brown 2-18. Beddingfield -- Jerry Atkinson 2-57, 2 TD; Everette Brown 2-34; Gynorris King 1-43; Doug Barron 1-17; Alfred Artis 1-4; Rondric Coppedge 1-(-1).
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