09/11/05 — Chargers top Rams in defensive struggle

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Chargers top Rams in defensive struggle

Published in Sports on September 11, 2005 2:08 AM


Courtesy Kinston Free Press

AYDEN -- Not surprisingly, running backs Matt Tripp and Daniel Greene were their usual outstanding selves for the Ayden-Grifton offense Friday night.

But it was their contributions on defense that keyed the Chargers' 14-6 victory over rival Greene Central.

"Everyone talks about our offense and how many yards we gain," Ayden-Grifton coach Paul Cromwell said following his team's hard-fought victory. "Tonight it was the defense that made the difference."

Tripp and Greene were a huge part of that defense. Both ravaged the Rams for 10 tackles apiece, while Tripp added a huge fumble recovery and Greene contributed a sack.

Their efforts helped the undefeated Chargers (4-0) force three turnovers and hold Greene Central's high-octane passing attack to 210 total yards. The Rams (1-3) averted the shutout on a nine-yard scoring pass from Cameron Shelton to Curtis Wright with 26.5 seconds to play.

"We told our kids that this game was going to be like a heavyweight title fight," Cromwell said. "We answered the bell and played our hearts out. I couldn't be prouder of my team."

The first half was a scoreless tussle dominated by the defenses. Each offense reached the red zone once in the half, but both were eventually stopped on downs.

Ayden-Grifton finally broke through with a 10-play, 61-yard drive that ended with Tripp's two-yard touchdown plunge at the 1:34 mark of the third quarter.

But it was Tripp's work on defense on the ensuing possession that really turned the tide in favor of Ayden-Grifton.

After Greene Central marched from its own 22 to the Charger 43, Tripp leveled the Rams' Dreyan Willis near the sideline. The massive hit separated Willis from the football, and Tripp alertly recovered the ball before it rolled out of bounds.

Two plays later, on the first snap of the fourth quarter, Ayden-Grifton reached paydirt again when James Greene was stripped of the ball near the goal line after a 19-yard dash. Lineman Josh Stocks recovered in the end zone.

Daniel Greene started the drive with a 33-yard burst around right end.

"We never got anything going on offense and we didn't do a good job of protecting the football," Greene Central coach Jim Bob Bryant said. "Before we play next Friday, I've got to find to find some kids who are going to make plays."

Bryant used three quarterbacks in search of an offensive spark -- Shelton, Willis and William Brown.

Only Shelton, working from a no-huddle offense late in the game, was able to generate points. He completed nine of 18 passes for 95 yards.

For the Chargers' part, they controlled the line of scrimmage with their running game. Fullback Tripp pounded away for 85 yards on 21 carries, while Daniel Greene ran 11 times for 77 yards.

Quarterback Richie Turner completed four of five passes for 48 yards and directed the offense flawlessly.

Ayden-Grifton puts its unbeaten record on the line next Friday at South Robeson. Greene Central is the guest of Kinston.