Eastern Wayne-West Craven
By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on August 21, 2005 2:10 AM
DUDLEY -- Turns out, eight was enough.
Anthony Council ran for 189 yards and a touchdown, and a bend-but-don't-break Southern Wayne defense kept West Craven out of the end zone in the second half -- plus recorded what proved to be the game-deciding safety -- as the Saint held off the Eagles on Friday night, 8-6.
West Craven had the ball at the Southern Wayne 22 with 1:26 left in the contest, but the Saints didn't budge an inch from there as the Saints stuffed fullback DeAndre Jones twice and swatted away a desperation heave in the end zone as time expired at Doyle Whitfield Athletic Complex.
"That was a hard-fought ballgame," Southern Wayne head coach Bob Warren said after the Saints (1-0) topped the Eagles (0-1) for a second year in a row. "Defensively, they stepped it up and made things happen. They were gassed and sore there at the end, but they put it out of their minds, got after it and made things happen."
Council, a 6-foot-0, 189-pound sophomore who ran for more than 2,000 yards with the JV team last year, carried the ball 25 times for 189 of the Saints' 249 rushing yards and scored a 15-yard touchdown in the third quarter of his first varsity football game. He probably would have had another touchdown if not for a bobbled handoff inside the West Craven 5.
"He's a heck of a player," Warren said. "He was our workhorse tonight."
With only one returning starter on the offensive line and preseason injuries to quarterback Michael Holland, OL/DL Jo Jo David and WR/DE Thomas Oliver, Warren was pleased with the way his team responded in Week 1.
"This was a great win for the team," the coach said. "We've faced a lot of adversity, but they did a great job. They made plays and kept plugging."
Council made his presence felt immediately by ripping off a 27-yard run on the game's first play from scrimmage. In the opening quarter, the Saints would outgain the visitors 116-35, but miscues kept the game scoreless. A holding penalty bogged down Southern Wayne's first drive, an interception killed the second one, and the fumble inside the five early in the second quarter turned away the Saints' best scoring opportunity of the first half.
With the ball at their own 2, the Eagles got on the scoreboard first by marching 98 yards on 11 plays as fullback Jamaine Moore finished the drive with a five-yard plunge up the middle to go up 6-0.
Runs of 40 and 12 yards by Council got the Saints down to the West Craven 11, but Southern Wayne lost the ball on downs as a fourth-down pass by sophomore QB Emmanuel Hinton fell incomplete late in the half.
The visitors fumbled away the opening kickoff of the second half, and the Saints made them pay as four straight runs by Council resulted in a touchdown that tied the game at six. Eastern Wayne had a chance to get its first lead of the night, but the extra point attempt sailed wide left.
Southern Wayne recovered another fumble on special teams later in the third quarter when Antwan Baynard fell on the ball after the Eagles punt returner couldn't field the kick.
The Saints lost the ball on downs after that, but it set up the deciding score of the game.
West Craven couldn't get the ball out of its end of the field and had to punt from its own end zone. Lee Nobles, the Eagles punter, couldn't handle the snap and Ricky Odden and a host of other Saints swarmed in to record the safety.
"We made a lot of critical mistakes," West Craven assistant coach Todd McMillen said. "We missed a lot of tackles, we missed opportunities on offense and defense and we had a couple turnovers there in the second half that killed us."
Southern Wayne had a chance to put the game out of reach as the Saints drove deep into Eagles territory, but Council came up about a foot short on a fourth-and-3.
With 4:17 remaining, West Craven ripped off runs of 20, 14 and 8 yards in a nine-play drive that moved the ball to the Southern Wayne 22, but the Eagles used up the rest of the clock in the process.
"The kids gave it their all," Warren said. "It was a great opening game -- we played a very good team and I think we'll continue to get better as this young team gains experience."
NOTES: Southern Wayne hits the road next week as the Saints travel to Wallace Rose-Hill. ... On first-and-20 in the first quarter, Saints running back Joey Legg ripped off a 46-yard run down to the West Craven 17. ... Hinton finished up 2-for-8 passing for 33 yards. Both his completions went to senior wideout Marcus Oates. ... Moore led West Craven in rushing with 63 yards on 14 hauls. ... The Eagles kept a second-quarter drive by Southern Wayne alive by committing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with the Saints lined up to punt on a fourth-and-11 at their own 31. On the next play, Council ripped off his 40-yard run.
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