Class 3-A -- Nash Central 31, So. Wayne 20
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 14, 2004 2:04 AM
DUDLEY -- Playing catch up.
It's not a favorable thing to do in the playoffs when every play on every down is crucial, but that's the situation Southern Wayne faced 11 minutes into Friday night's battle against Nash Central.
The ninth-seeded Bulldogs posted two touchdowns and kept the Saints at arm's length in a 31-20 victory at the Doyle Whitfield Athletic Complex. Nash Central (7-5) travels to top-seeded Wilson Fike next week for round two of the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A (small-school) playoffs.
The Saints concluded their 2004 campaign with a 7-5 worksheet.
Bulldog quarterback Emmanuel Rhyant, a senior, ran the I-formation with ease on a miserable, rainy night. At times, the 6-foot-2, 165-pounder tucked the ball into his chest and broke through the line for big plays. Other times, he handed off to junior Willenn Brinkley, who grinded out an average of 8.1 yards per carry en route to a 171-yard performance.
The duo combined for 148 of Nash Central's 152 yards in the opening quarter. Rhyant accounted for both touchdowns on runs of 20 and 16 yards, giving the visitors a 14-0 lead on the soggy turf.
"He's (Brinkley) been our bread and butter all year, but other key pieces have got to work for him to get into the lanes," Bulldog coach Ken Grantham said. "The line came off the ball real well. The quarterback made some good decisions back there on when to keep it and when he should give it."
Southern Wayne stayed within a touchdown throughout the night. However, it couldn't get that one big play that's been synonymous with their offense the second half of the season.
The Saints struggled in the red zone, tallying for three touchdowns on seven possessions. They turned the ball over on downs twice and an interception halted another scoring drive. Bulldog defensive end Draey Quarles thwarted the Saints' final drive in the opening half, sacking quarterback Logan Porter as time expired.
"We had some success offensively between the 20s in the first half, but when we got in the red zone, we struggled just a little bit," Southern Wayne coach Bob Warren said. "We were running our offense and they just stuffed it several times in key situations. I thought we'd play well, but when we score and bring it back close, we just couldn't get two consecutive scores. Credit Nash Central, they're a very talented team.
"Their defense presented a lot of athleticism to us today. They fly to the ball very quickly, and they've got big, strong guys who do well at that."
Walter Best closed the gap to 14-7 on a three-yard run midway through the second quarter. The Bulldogs answered with an 11-play, 80-yard scoring drive.
Best, again, helped the Saints climb within 21-14 on an eight-yard run late in the third quarter. Nash Central, again, retaliated with Brinkley's 10-yard run as the period ended.
"We worked real hard in preparing for them and they're a real good offensive team from what we saw on tape," Grantham said. "We changed some things for this game, but they made some adjustments as the game went on that we had trouble stopping."
Best paced the Saints' ground game with 119 yards and two touchdowns, and also snagged a fourth-quarter scoring strike from Logan Porter. He capped his senior season by rushing for over 2,000 yards and collecting 20 touchdowns on the ground.
Southern Wayne, playing host to a first-round home game for the first time in school history, remained winless in six playoff appearances.
Nash Central 14 7 7 3 -- 31
Southern Wayne 0 7 7 6 -- 20
NC -- Rhyant 20 run (Hartley kick), 11:29
NC -- Rhyant 16 run (Hartley kick), 1:01
SW -- Best 3 run (Porter kick), 6:29
NC -- Rhyant 2 run (Hartley kick), 1:25
SW -- Best 8 run (Porter kick), 3:08
NC -- Brinkley 10 run (Hartley kick), 0:00
NC -- Hartley 42 FG, 6:41
SW -- Best 47 pass from Porter (kick failed), 5:40
N. Central SW
First downs 14 17
Rushes-yds 41-285 44-198
Passing yds 54 118
Total yards 339 316
Att.-Comp.-Int. 4-2-1 21-7-2
Fumbles-lost 1-0 0-0
Punts-avg 1-26.0 1-33.0
Penalties-yds 5-56 6-55
RUSHING -- Nash Central -- Willenn Brinkley 21-171, TD; Emmanuel Rhyant 16-115, 3 TDs; Brandon Blount 4-(-1). Southern Wayne -- Walter 23-119, 2 TDs; Brian White 12-68; Ronald Cox 2-24; Derrick Lathan 2-19; Michael Warren 1-1; Logan Porter 4-(-33).
PASSING -- Nash Central -- Emmanuel Rhyant 2-4-1 54. Southern Wayne -- Logan Porter 7-17-2 118, TD; Michael Holland 0-4-0 0.
RECEIVING -- Nash Central -- Deunte Williams 2-54. Southern Wayne -- Thomas Gainey 2-42; Walter Best 2-36, TD; Brian White 1-28; Michael Warren 1-9; Marcus Oates 1-3.
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