Saints answer Eagles' surge
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on September 11, 2005 2:09 AM
DUDLEY -- Leading 20-6 at halftime after a solid performance on both sides of the ball on Friday night, Southern Wayne faced a second-half surge by Western Harnett that saw the Eagles post four scores.
The young Saints' offense -- which had only tallied two touchdowns coming into the game -- responded in impressive fashion.
Sophomore running back Anthony Council turned in another huge effort, dashing for a career-high 251 yards on the ground with five all-purpose touchdowns as Southern Wayne (2-2) dashed past Western Harnett 47-34 at the Doyle Whitfield Athletic Complex.
The point total was the Saints' highest output since a 56-18 win over Goldsboro late in the 2003 season.
"They've got some explosive players, but our kids fought hard," 10-year Southern Wayne coach Bob Warren said. "Our kids responded to everything they threw at us. We kept coming back and making something happen. That's a credit to a young team that's trying to get over the hill."
Western Harnett, which was unbeaten going into Friday night, put together a 13-play drive -- capped by an eight-yard strike from Mike Mahoney to Keith Crudup -- to cut the Saint lead to 33-26 with 6:16 left on the fourth-quarter clock.
Council took the ensuing kick-off in the middle of the field at the 30 and ran left. Then, benefiting from good blocking by the return team, the sophomore dashed all the way down the left sideline for a 70-yard touchdown. The extra point made the score 40-26.
Southern Wayne defensive back Marcus Oates picked off a Mahoney pass on Western Harnett's next possession as Council put the finishing touches on his performance with a 32-yard scamper with just over two minutes left to push the margin to 47-26.
The Saints recovered an onside kick on the next kick-off, but coughed up their second of three fumbles and the Eagles took advantage of the miscue. Western Harnett's all-purpose back, Trey Cole, got loose down the left side for a 45-yard catch and run to cap the scoring at 1:52. Cole finished with 226 total yards with three touchdowns -- two receiving and one rushing.
Each team turned it over once more in the last minute as the Eagles and Saints combined for seven turnovers.
"No. 22 (Cole) is a great back. He makes a lot of people miss," Warren said. "He's a strong runner with shifty moves. You try to contain those type of people and he got free a few times. And, their passing is pretty good too."
Cole scored on a 50-yard run and the first of two, 45-yard scoring passes from Mahoney as the Eagles came out after halftime to tie the game at 20-20 just five minutes into the second half.
Much like late in the game, Southern Wayne answered with two straight touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Emmanuel Hinton found senior Joey Legg open down the middle of the field for his only completion of the game -- a 53-yard score to make it 27-20.
After the Saint defense forced a three-and-out, Michael Warren finished off a 10-play drive with a 4-yard plunge to paydirt. The extra-point snap was bobbled, which was the last-of-three failed Southern Wayne extra-point conversions, as the Saints held a 13-point lead early in the fourth.
The first half saw the Saints control both lines of scrimmage.
All seeing time on the offensive line -- Will Smith, Ricky Odden, Kegan Bly, John Kendall, Preston Grantham, Jeremy Hargrove, Patrick Hollowell, David Combs and Jo Jo Davis -- helped Council and the Saint offense outgain Western Harnett 233-57 in the first half.
The Saints had nine first downs to the Eagles two as Council scored three times before halftime to help Southern Wayne out to a 20-6 lead. Western Harnett's only touchdown of the half came on a one-yard plunge by Devin Lee early in the second quarter, making the score 8-6 after the kick failed.
"Our offense and defense was clicking. We felt good about that, but we knew the odds of that holding we would have to play good football," Warren said.
Southern Wayne makes the short trip to county rival Goldsboro (1-3) on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Notes: Derrick Lathan added 69 yards on 12 carries for the Saints ... Combs paced the Southern Wayne defense with nine tackles and one assists, while Michael Allen added six tackles and one sack and Davis notched four tackles and one sack ... The Saints are 5-5 at home dating back to last season but have won 5-of-6 in Dudley.
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