Tarboro wins EPC title
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on November 7, 2004 2:02 AM
TARBORO -- North Lenoir football coach Wayne Jackson compares the Class 2-A N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs to a game of "Football Survivor."
His Hawks enter the postseason hoping to bounce back off of a 38-13 loss at Tarboro on Friday with the Eastern Plains Conference championship on the line.
The Vikings (8-3, 4-1 EPC) claimed their first title since winning back-to-back crowns in 2000 and 2001, but Jackson hopes his team can recover and understand their season is not over -- despite the tough loss.
"We are getting ready to start a game of Football Survivor. Week-to-week, half the teams are going to be voted off," Jackson said. "Are we going to be a football team that reunites and goes back to the drawing board, or are we going to be a team that pulls apart and has dissention?"
Friday, Tarboro put up a big 28-point first half that proved to be the key to the game. North Lenoir (5-6, 3-2) managed just two first downs in the first half and had two interceptions. Tarboro picked up eight first downs and had 246 total yards from scrimmage before intermission.
After the Vikings' Ramayl Short put his team on the board with a 63-yard touchdown jaunt, teammate Shawn Draughn picked off a Hawk pass in North Lenoir territory to put his offense back on the field. A pass interference penalty called on North Lenoir continued the ensuing drive as Draughn charged in from 13 yards out to put his team up 14-0 after the extra point.
The Hawks turned it over on downs near midfield on their next possession, before another interception on the first play of the second quarter. Tarboro turned both into touchdowns to go up 28-0 midway through the second quarter.
"We came out extremely focused. We knew North Lenoir was a good football team," first-year Tarboro head coach Jeff Craddock said. "They pounded us last year, and they've been clicking. We knew for us to have a chance we would have to come out early and put a couple of quick ones on the board."
Draughn and Short did most of the damage offensively for the Vikings, who outgained North Lenoir 381-217 overall. Draughn rushed for 153 yards on 26 carries with three touchdowns, while Short amassed 159 yards on 12 carries. Both Draughn and Short, along with quarterback Jamayl Short, were injured in last week's loss to Greene Central.
Jackson credits their running ability in making his defensive players miss numerous tackles.
"We played some good downs on defense, but then we played some bad downs," Jackson said. "The Draughn kid is a shifty running back and he made us miss a lot. They seemed to be a step quicker than we were."
The Hawks finally got on the board early in the third quarter on a 40-yard touchdown pass and run from Andrew Manning to E.J. Brown to make the score 28-6. The Vikings answered the big play with a 13-play, five-minute drive to go up 31-6.
North Lenoir's final score came on a two-yard rush from Eric Whitfield late in the fourth. A 30-yard pass from Manning to William Brown keyed the Hawks' final touchdown of the regular season.
Antonio Hamilton paced the Hawks on the ground with 79 tough yards on 20 carries. Manning passed for 109 yards on six-of-14 passing with two interceptions.
North Lenoir 0 0 6 7 -- 13
Tarboro 21 7 3 7 -- 38
THS -- R. Short 63 run (Arius kick) 7:45
THS -- Draughn 12 run (Arius kick) 5:51
THS -- Thompson 31 pass from J. Short (Arius kick) 1:17
THS -- Draughn 6 run (Arius kick) 6:05
NL -- Brown 40 pass from Manning (run failed) 9:10
THS -- Arius 25 FG, 3:51
THS -- Draughn 5 run (Arius kick) 9:01
NL -- Whitfield 2 run (Baird kick) 2:40
First downs 10 15
Rushes-yds. 33-108 52-350
Passing yds. 109 31
Total yards 217 381
Att.-Comp.-Int. 14-6-2 5-1-0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0
Punts-avg. 2-36.5 3-37.3
Penalties-yds. 5-35 10-55
RUSHING -- North Lenoir -- Antonio Hamilton 20-79; Eric Whitfield 4-10, TD; E.J. Brown 5-9; Tyrone Spencer 2-(-1); Ervin Atkins 1-12; Andrew Manning 1-(-1). Tarboro -- Shawn Draughn 26-153, 3 TD; Ramayl Short 12-159, TD; Kirk Heffley 8-18; Jamayl Short 1-8; #42 2-5; Justin Hyman 3-5; Sedorius Lewis 1-2.
PASSING -- North Lenoir -- Andrew Manning 6-14-2 109, TD. Tarboro -- Jamayl Short 1-5-0 31, TD.
RECEIVING -- North Lenoir -- E.J. Brown 3-69, TD; Antonio Hamilton 1-1;William Brown 2-49. Tarboro - Fleming Thompson 1-31, TD.
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