10/23/05 — North Lenoir wins again

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North Lenoir wins again

By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on October 23, 2005 2:16 AM


Courtesy Free Press

LaGRANGE -- In a sport where the final score doesn't always tell the whole story, North Lenoir's 43-0 rout of North Pitt Friday at Bullock Field left little to the imagination.

The Hawks dominated early and late, offensively and defensively, and just about every other way possible in their Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference game. North Lenoir (4-5) is 3-0 in conference play for the first time since 1986.

"I can't emphasize how proud I am of these kids," North Lenoir coach Wayne Jackson said after his team cruised on Senior Night. "We were 1-5 and left for dead, but we've battled back and put ourselves in position for our fourth straight playoff berth."

With road games left at Goldsboro and Greene Central, the Hawks have already clinched that playoff berth.

And they have a group of talented seniors to thank.

Against North Pitt, senior running backs Eric Whitfield (10 carries, 142 yards, one touchdown) and Tyrone Best (16 carries, 77 yards, one touchdown) ran almost at will behind a veteran offensive line anchored by seniors Ryan Johnson, Jordan Smith, and Casey Koonce.

"It felt good to go out there and be able to control the line of scrimmage," Johnson said.

The Hawks did just that, especially in the first half, when they churned out 172 rushing yards and more than doubled the Panthers in time of possession -- 16:15 to 7:45.

"(North Pitt) slowed us down a little by blitzing their linebackers, but we were able to adjust," Smith said.

For the game, North Lenoir rolled up 306 yards rushing to go with 49 through the air.

"We came into the game thinking we could run on them, and we did," Koonce said.

The Hawks rushing attack made quick work of the visitors. Quarterback Andrew Manning's 1-yard scoring plunge capped a seven-play, 67-yard opening drive, and Best tallied from three yards out to culminate a 7-yard march on the Hawks' second possession.

Whitfield added a 12-yard TD dash in the second quarter and sophomore Marquez Outlaw scored from four yards away in the fourth period to complete the Hawks' offensive onslaught.

And the much maligned North Lenoir defense was equally impressive.

In addition to pitching their first shutout since Sept. 28, 2001, (20-0 over James Kenan) the Hawks stop troops scored a pair of touchdowns on Kenyatta Hardy's 18-yard fumble rumble, and senior Rodney Jarman's 35-yard interception return.

"Our defense doesn't get a lot of credit sometimes, but tonight they were outstanding," Jackson said.

North Pitt managed just five first downs and 135 total yards, including an anemic nine on the ground.