Prep football -- Hawk defense steps up after first-half shootout
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 3, 2004 2:00 AM
DUDLEY -- Admittedly, Southern Wayne and North Lenoir entered Friday evening's non-conference contest battling their respective inner demons. Each program had endured internal troubles and contended with early-season injuries that led to changes in their respective lineups.
The inconveniences didn't play much of a factor.
The teams combined for 50 first-half points, but the offensive assault didn't continue in the second half. The Hawks' defense intercepted two passes and halted potential scoring drives in a 45-30 victory at the Doyle Whitfield Athletic Complex.
Before the fans could settle into their seats and dine on their pre-game snacks, the Hawks and Saints combined to put 19 points on the board. William Brown rambled 49 yards for a score on a fake punt and Antonio Hamilton added a 60-yard gallop down the left sideline.
Walter Best excited the Southern Wayne faithful with an 89-yard kickoff return -- one of two touchdowns he scored in that fashion. Best has three kickoff TD returns against North Lenoir and five overall in his varsity career.
The Hawks led 12-7 less than five minutes into the game.
"It was a good half for the spectators, that's for sure," veteran Southern Wayne coach Bob Warren said. "But it makes you pull your hair out as coaches. It was a very good first half."
Hamilton collected 147 of his game-high 178 yards in the opening half. The 5-foot-7, 170-pound junior added a 20-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. The Saints adjusted their blocking scheme defensively at halftime and limited Hamilton to 31 second-half yards.
"We hit some things on them and they changed their defense the second half," North Lenoir coach Wayne Jackson said. "They stopped a lot of things we were able to hit them with in the first half, so we had to change and go to a bigger offense.
"We just tried to run smash-mouth football."
The Hawks (2-4) notched five touchdowns on seven first-half possessions and averaged nearly more than 10 yards per offensive play. Overall, North Lenoir ran 56 offensive plays and accumulated 442 yards total offense, including 389 on the ground from seven different backs.
The visitors scored touchdowns on eight of 11 possessions in the 48-minute contest.
"We had a lot of obstacles to overcome tonight and defensively we had a lot of new players playing," Warren said. "North Lenoir is a very good team and we knew we would have to play our best.
"Offensively, we spittered and sputtered quite a bit in a lot of areas. Defensively, they made some great plays on us."
Southern Wayne trailed 26-24 at halftime despite gaining just 59 yards total offense. Best's two kickoff returns, Derrick Lathan's three-yard scramble and Louis Cifuentes' 35-yard field goal accounted for the scores.
The Saints (2-4) moved the ball well offensively in the second half and picked up 170 yards total offense. Senior quarterback Logan Porter directed a fourth-quarter touchdown drive, but the Saints also fell victim to three second-half turnovers.
Hawk corner Michael Moore and linebacker Eric Whitfield each intercepted Porter in the second half.
"We have the capabilities of playing good defense and we did tonight," Jackson said. "The things we worked on, our kids executed and it's great that our defense stepped up. We have struggled on defense the last couple of years."
North Lenoir leads the all-time series 3-0 against Southern Wayne and Jackson possesses a 4-4 record against Wayne County schools during his five-year tenure.
The Saints (2-4) step back into Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference play next Friday at West Carteret.
"We're trying to work through some things and mature right now," Warren said. "We saw some good things, played a lot of people and found out some things about those people. We'll look at the film and look what we need to do to get this program to go in the direction we want it to go."
Meanwhile, the Hawks claimed their second victory in their last three outings and evened their road record at 2-2. They entertain county rival South Lenoir in the Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference opener for both teams next Friday.
"This is huge," Jackson said. "You want to get a win going into your conference schedule. I think this lets our kids know that we can win and we beat a quality football team ... a well-coached football team tonight."
N. Lenoir 12 20 6 7 -- 45
So. Wayne 7 17 0 6 -- 30
NL -- W. Brown 49 run (kick blocked), 8:49
SW -- Best 89 kickoff return (Cifuentes kick), 8:31
NL -- Hamilton 60 run (run failed), 7:48
SW -- Cifuentes 35 FG, 11:51
NL -- Hamilton 20 run (Whitfield run), 10:23
SW -- Best 91 kickoff return (Cifuentes kick), 10:11
NL -- Joyner 42 pass from Manning (kick failed), 7:57
SW -- Lathan 3 run (Cifuentes kick), 3:36
NL -- E.J. Brown 51 run (pass failed), 2:03
NL -- Harris 9 pass from Manning (kick failed), 0:42
NL -- Manning 1 run (Jarman kick), 7:04
SW -- Oates 24 pass from Porter (run failed), 5:16
First downs 18 13
Rushes-yds 48-389 30-104
Passing yds 53 125
Total yards 442 227
Att.-Comp.-Int. 8-3-0 19-7-2
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-1
Punts-avg. 2-37.0 3-37.7
Penalties-yds 5-38 5-36
RUSHING -- North Lenoir -- Ervin Atkins 3-9; Antonio Hamilton 22-178, 2 TDs; E.J. Brown 9-84, TD; Andrew Manning 2-0, TD; James Davis 8-40; William Brown 1-49, TD; Tyrone Spencer 3-29. Southern Wayne -- Logan Porter 5-41; Brian White 7-31; Walter Best 14-45; Derrick Lathan 2-6, TD; Michael Holland 1-(-9); Thomas Gainey 1-(-10).
PASSING -- North Lenoir -- Andrew Manning 3-8-0 53, 2 TDs. Southern Wayne -- Logan Porter 7-19-2 125, TD.
RECEIVING -- North Lenoir -- Josh Joyner 1-42, TD; Spenser Harris 1-9, TD; James Davis 1-2. Southern Wayne -- Marcus Oates 3-54, TD; Walter Best 2-44; Antwan Williams 1-19; Brian White 1-8.
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