09/05/04 — Prep football -- Saints battle hard in home loss

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Prep football -- Saints battle hard in home loss

By David Williams
Published in Sports on September 5, 2004 2:01 AM

DUDLEY -- The scoreboard will show a loss for Southern Wayne in the home opener of the 2004 football season Friday night -- a 35-20 defeat at the hands of John T. Hoggard High from Wilmington.

But Saints coach Bob Warren saw the real tests his team took at the Doyle Whitfield Athletic Complex -- a battle with a physical team, a bigger team, a team with versatility enough to pass and run effectively.

In Warren's eyes, the only test his team did not pass was on the scoreboard.

"I'm just pleased that we played extremely hard," said Warren. "We didn't match up well with them on the offensive line. It was tough going, but the kids kept hanging in there, the backs made some good moves and Logan (Porter) threw the ball extremely well. We were successful offensively."

The game was a series of long, time consuming drives by both teams, the kind of game that grinds up a defense and tests conditioning.

The two teams switched scoring drives five times in the first half, with Southern Wayne on the short end of a 21-14 score because the Saints could not mount a final drive before the half. Brian White rumbled 57 yards to score for Southern Wayne and Walter Best capped the Saints first drive with an 11-yard run to score.

Hoggard quarterback Brandon Miley threw two touchdown passes and engineered a drive that saw Julian Williams dive in from the one to forge the Vikings' 21-14 lead at half.

The Saints pulled to within one as Best was the workhorse on a 72-yard drive to open the half. Porter hit Marcus Oates from 21 yards out with a nice fade pass for the touchdown, but the kick try was blocked and Hoggard held the 21-20 lead.

The Vikings (1-1) scored on yet another long march, a 13-play, 65-yard march that saw Williams do the heavy lifting and Don Spears get the two-yard drive to score for a 28-20 lead.

Southern Wayne broke through on the next drive, as a fumble was recovered by Matt Best to set Hoggard up at the Saint 23. From there it took four plays to score as Williams got the call from one-yard out to get the Vikings ahead 35-20.

The Saints defense did not give up, shutting Hoggard out of the end zone in the final period and giving the offense chances late in the game, A fumble killed one more chance, and Porter's pass to the end zone was intercepted by Justin Gray with less than two minutes to play to seal the victory.

"The defense made some stops in the fourth period to give us the ball in the fourth. Hoggard's defense was tough, but I thought our defense played hard and gave us an opportunity to still be in the game."

Porter threw for 121 yards on 7-of-12 passing, and Antwan Williams snared two passes for 48 yards. White -- who did not play in the second half -- led the team with 72 yards on six carries. For Hoggard, Miley threw for 185 yards, with Brandon Crane his favorite target at a rate of seven catches for 116 yards and a touchdown.

"We expected a hard-fought game, and we knew we were going to fight hard the whole game just to be in it," said Warren. "They are a very talented football team, and I thought we played pretty good defense. That quarterback and that group of receivers are just very talented. I commend their team."

The Saints (1-1) open Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference play Friday when Kinston comes to town