10/11/05 — Cougars knock off Vikings

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Cougars knock off Vikings

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 11, 2005 2:17 PM

Defense, special teams and good 'ole family roots helped Goldsboro High end a frustrating losing streak Monday evening at Cougar Stadium.

Hykeen Coley, nephew of former Goldsboro standout Montrell Coley, returned a 60-yard punt for the game-winning touchdown in the Cougars' 13-6 victory over reigning Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference champion Tarboro High. Goldsboro (2-5) snapped an eight-game skid at home and presented head coach Maurice Jackson with his first-ever, conference-opening win in three tries.

The Vikings endured their third straight loss and departed 2-5.

"Special teams is a big part of the game," said a grinning Jackson. "We always say don't let special teams hurt us, but let it help us."

Trailing 6-0 late in the third quarter, Goldsboro defensive end Antonio Green blocked a punt inside Vikings' territory. The Cougars recovered the ball at the Tarboro 28-yard line and needed just four plays to score.

Two rushes and one pass incompletion netted just three yards. On fourth down, quarterback Adrian Lewis rolled out and hit Virginia Tech recruit Jacob Sykes for a 26-yard touchdown pass. Monquavis Edwards added the PAT for a 7-6 advantage.

"I told our offensive coordinator to be more aggressive," said Jackson. "Their defensive backs were on their heels ... really nervous, like anyone would be when covering Sykes. I said let's put him on the move and see if they (DBs) can check him then.

"It was a good play ... double move and there it (the TD pass) is. The blocked punt ... we finally got that break."

Tarboro appeared to answer on its next possession.

Tailback Adrian Dickens took the handoff from quarterback Kyle Coker and got belted at the line of scrimmage. The ball popped out of Dickens' hands and into the arms of Derek Gratsy, who galloped 63 yards for an apparent touchdown.

But the officials assessed the Vikings a holding penalty. Three plays later, Coley fielded Lewis' punt and did a tight-rope walk down the left sideline toward the end zone.

"They were kicking away from Jacob and could never get a clear punt return with him," said Jackson. "We decided to put some more speed back there with Coley ... got those good roots from Montrell.

"We gave them a double threat, saying if youdon't kick it to one, you'll have to kick it to the other. You can see that once he gets open field, it's hard to catch him."

The Vikings had one last gasp.

Working with one timeout and the clock quickly ticking away precious seconds, Tarboro moved inside the Goldsboro 10-yard line in just six plays. The Cougars aided the Vikings' cause with two critical personal foul penalties.

Two rushing plays resulted in minus-1 yard. On third-and-goal, Coker handed off to Dickens, who got blind-sided by 210-pound lineman Jeremy Sessions. Dickens fumbled and Green recovered.

Lewis took a knee on the next snap and Goldsboro claimed its first home win since a 32-6 thrashing of South Central in mid-October 2003.

"We're just not good enough to give up a blocked punt and a punt return for a touchdown," said second-year Tarboro coach Jeff Craddock. "There is no excuse getting beat on a fourth-and-ten (play). We know the wheel is coming and that number 80 (Sykes) is their favorite receiver.

"We know they are going to throw him the football and make a play. We don't (defend), they did (score) ... we lose."

Injury-riddled Tarboro grabbed a 6-0 lead in the opening quarter on Heffley's 1-yard plunge. Heffley emerged the Vikings' and game's leading rusher with 81 yards on 23 totes. He shouldered the offensive burden since North Carolina signee Shaun Draughn is sidelined with a left-knee injury until Oct. 21.

The Vikings out-gained the Cougars 247-143.

Notes: Tarboro is 16-5 against EPC opposition since 2001. ... Boone paced the Goldsboro defense with 12 tackles, while SS Coriante Thompson contributed seven stops and two assists. Andrew Phifer, moved to middle linebacker, recorded six tackles and three assists. ... The Vikings were 6 of 14 on third-down conversions, while the Cougars finished 3 for 12.