10/11/05 — Gators take a bite out of winless 'Dawgs

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Gators take a bite out of winless 'Dawgs

Published in Sports on October 11, 2005 2:16 PM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- "Why not us this year?" asked Spring Creek coach Roy Whitfield to his team after their 31-7 win at Princeton on Monday night.

"In the past, it's always been somebody else mentioned to lead the conference. This year, if we can continue to play as a team, we can be right there in contention for the top spot."

The Gators are now 4-3 overall, while Princeton remains winless at 0-7. It was the Class 1-A Carolina Conference opener for both teams.

Although it might not have appeared that way at first as the Gators' Lelo Burt ran Colin Parker's opening kick 90 yards for a score -- Spring Creek might have been taking their hosts a bitlightly.

"That's just human nature," added Whitfield. "I told the group that if you let Princeton hang around, they'll be in for a dog fight. Fortunately, our defense picked up the tempo in the second half."

Princeton gave Spring Creek all they wanted during the opening two quarters. The Bulldogs ran 34 plays to the Gators 22.

Coach Russell Williamson pulled out all the stops. Twice on fourth down, he elected to go for broke to get the first down. Tailback Decarious Scarboro bore the brunt of the rushing load as the senior picked up 38 yards in 12 carries.

The Bulldogs were also blessed by outstanding signal calling from Patrick Gatewood. He capped a ten play drive at 2:27 of second quarter as he snuck over the goal line from the one for his teams lone score.

Gatewood was equally effective through the air. He completed 7-of-13 for 59 yards. Several Princeton offensive drives came to a halt when open receivers dropped Gatewood's throws.

"We can't run the ball every play," said Williamson. "They moved nine players into the box to stop our runs. We've got to hold on to the ball."

Princeton's defense, led by Jonathan Hartley and Landon Myers, could not contain Spring Creek's rushing trio of Burt, Ricky Mason, and Ronnie Butler. Besides his kickoff return, Burt rushed for three more scores on runs of 3, 37, and 28 yards. He was the game's leading rusher with 92 yards on 5 carries.

"You can see what we can do when we get the ball in his hands," observed Whitfield.

Mason was right behind him with 83 yards on 9 attempts. Butler scored his team's other touchdown, scampering for 47 yards on 11 carries.

Whitfield was clearly unhappy with his passing game.

"We had players wide open and missed them," he said. "We've got to improve our timing."

Once again, it was the Gator defense that paved the way for the win. Playing without the services of defensive tackle Steven Price (broken wrist), Spring Creek shut down their hosts in the second half, allowing only two first downs. Scarboro had a mere four yards on three carries.

This Friday, Spring Creek entertains state-ranked Ayden-Grifton, while Princeton will travel to Calypso to face North Duplin.