09/11/05 — Clutch Rouse FG boosts Warriors

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Clutch Rouse FG boosts Warriors

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 11, 2005 2:09 AM

WILSON -- Clint Rouse adjusted his chin strap, counted off the steps, took a deep breath and waited for the snap. A mere second later, the whistle blew and the official signaled timeout for Wilson Fike.

Rouse walked away.

When the official put the ball back in play with 14 seconds left in regulation, Rouse emulated the same routine. Fike called its final timeout and Rouse walked away again.

"I was as nervous as could be before the first one," said Rouse, Eastern Wayne's senior placekicker. "The two timeouts gave me time to calm down."

Rouse shanked a field goal last week at South Central. Fike defensive end Johnny Oquendo blocked his second attempt, a 32-yarder late in the third quarter.

Rouse didn't miss this time. Quarterback Tyler Ham grabbed the snap from center, spun the ball once and Rouse did the rest. His second 32-yard attempt -- and just the third attempt of his career -- easily split the uprights with plenty of distance to spare for a 17-14 Warrior victory at Bedgood Stadium.

"I was trying my hardest not to rush," said Rouse, who experienced quick flashbacks of the blocked field goal. "It was a good snap, good hold and it felt alright."

Eastern Wayne climbed to 3-0 and is believed to have equaled its best start in school history since 1978. The Warriors seized the program's lone conference championship that year and lost a Class 4-A second-round playoff game against Richmond County.

Fike remained winless in three outings.

Down 14-7, the Golden Demons forced a fumble on the Warriors' initial possession of the third quarter. Six plays later, quarterback Marcus Johnson hit Dajuan Lucas with a 26-yard touchdown strike on second-and-goal from the 26.

Johnson either ran or threw on 24 of Fike's 27 offensive plays in the second half. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior put the Golden Demons in scoring position twice after the touchdown. He accounted for 148 of Fike's 232-yard offensive output.

"He's a good little athlete," said third-year Warrior coach Jeff Price. "That was the only option they had; let the quarterback take the snap, find a crease and hit it. It was troubling a little bit ... at times, frustrating.

"When they started doing that, they got some offense."

But the Warrior defense never broke.

Tied at 14-14 with the contest seemingly headed for overtime, third-year Warrior coach Jeff Price told his team to "keep battling men; your break is going to come."

It did.

The Golden Demons, of the NEW Athletic 6 Conference, had a drive stall inside the Warrior 15-yard line. Griffin Benton's 32-yard field goal sailed wide left, leaving the game tied with less than six minutes to go.

Eastern Wayne punted at midfield and the defense got another stop. On fourth down, Kendrick Best and Tim Warren combined to partially block Griffin Benton's punt.

The ball bounced near the 10 and the Warriors finally recovered at the Fike 22. Graham rushed twice for eight of his game-high 114 yards and Golden Demon linebacker Thomas Brown knocked down Tyler Ham's third-down pass to Rouse.

Once Fike exhausted its allotment of timeouts, Rouse waited for the snap after setting up on the left hash mark. He smoothly booted the ball through the uprights and gave the Warriors their second road victory of the season.

"We felt like we just couldn't catch a break," said Price. "Dag-gone it, we kept plugging in there. It would be real easy to go ahead and give up at that point, and we told them to hang in there. Your time is coming.

"Sure enough, they missed their field goal. We go down, chip one in and seal the deal -- a fantastic finish for sure."

Each team had long, first-quarter touchdown plays negated by holding penalties. The Warriors punted on their first three possessions and converted just one third-down play in four attempts.

"We had some three-and-outs which was extremely frustrating," third-year Eastern Wayne coach Jeff Price said. "I said 'fellas, this is what I showed you all week long. Now do it.' The light bulb was going off and coming, going off and coming on ... kind of sporadic."

Eastern Wayne built a 14-0 second-quarter advantage on Andrew Blevins' 23-yard touchdown romp and Al Graham's 20-yard scamper. Both scores occurred after the defense stopped Fike twice inside its own 25-yard line and forced short punts.

Fike answered with a 66-yard march capped by Johnson's 1-yard plunge right before halftime.