10/23/05 — Falcons hang tough on Saturday night

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Falcons hang tough on Saturday night

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 23, 2005 2:18 AM

WILSON -- One by one, Charles B. Aycock's players shed their sweat- and mud-stained uniforms and examined minor cuts and bruises during their postgame huddle Saturday evening at Wilson Hunt.

Even head coach Randy Pinkowski bared a battle scar -- a small cut above his right eye -- after head-butting outside linebacker Erik Taylor after a key, third-quarter defensive stop.

Pinkowski beamed with pride, not only from his blood-stained injury, but because of his team's second-half effort. The smaller, shorter and less-athletic Golden Falcons pitched a second-half shutout in a 16-6 loss against the Warriors.

Hunt entered the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference contest with the second-highest scoring offense at 30 points a game. C.B. Aycock held the Warriors (8-1, 3-0 ECC) to a season-low output in conference play and their second-lowest total since a 31-7 loss at Rocky Mount on Aug. 26.

"When you play the (defending) eastern champion two nights in a row and hold them to 16 points, that's a helluva defensive effort," said Pinkowski, whose career record is 37-42. "Hats off to Coach (John) Fidler and my coaches. Bigger hats off to this scrappy crowd you see in blue right here.

"My heart goes out to them."

Flashes of lightning delayed the game for 90 minutes before athletics directors and officials decided to resume play Saturday. A steady rain followed by a drenching overnight thunderstorm soaked the field. The muddy turf negated each team's rushing attack.

The Golden Falcons (5-4, 1-2) yielded just four second-half first downs, while the Warriors converted just two of seven third-down plays. Hunt punted four times and a Montez Ham interception ended another possession.

Meanwhile, C.B. Aycock -- which is 1-4 in road games -- returned without Spruce Lee. Nicknamed the "field general," Lee aggravated an ankle injury and carried the ball just one time in the third quarter. His absence didn't limit Pinkowski's play calling, but it did affect finding the right personnel for each offensive snap.

Cortez Gilbert collected the Golden Falcons' lone touchdown -- a 7-yard burst late in the third quarter. Sophomore defensive end Jarrett Covar made a great block to help Gilbert avoid a Hunt linebacker and waltz into the end zone untouched.

Neither team ventured into the red zone from that point. The Golden Falcons and Warriors, who celebrated Senior Day and Homecoming, traded punts on numerous possessions between the 30-yard lines.

Two interceptions halted potential C.B. Aycock drives.

"It's one of those types of games that you hate to see anyone lose, personally," said Pinkowski. "Hunt's kids played fine and tough. Our kids played fine and tough. It was just what I would expect to see out of a Hunt-C.B. Aycock football game.

"I can't fault the effort in this game. I can't fault the coaching in this game."

A turnover at the Golden Falcon 3-yard line set up the Warriors' first touchdown. Zach Thomas added a 27-yard field goal in the second quarter and James Pone bolted 35 yards for an early third-quarter score.

The Golden Falcons' failed to convert their lone red-zone possession just before halftime. Pinkowski, admittedly, thought he had more time and misconstrued the sideline official's ruling on a completed pass to Tim Alston.

The official said Alston made no effort to get out of bounds, so once the middle official spotted the ball, the clock started running. Quarterback Thomas Pilkington spiked the ball twice and then got stopped on a fourth-down play at the 2-yard line as time expired.

"How big was that?" said Pinkowski. "We tried to do what we thought we had ... a little waggle away and giving the run-pass option. We were half a yard shy of finishing it off."

C.B. Aycock returns home next Friday for an ECC matchup against county rival Eastern Wayne. The Golden Falcons prevailed 15-0 last year in Pikeville.

Notes: Gilbert, a Shrine Bowl pick, notched a game- and team-high 13 tackles to go along with four assists. ... Junior ILB Travis Milligan added six solo stops and six assists. ... Junior ILB Joseph Toler contributed four tackles and five assists. ... Toler averaged 31.8 yards on seven punts. ... C.B. Aycock finished 4 of 13 on third-down conversions.