10/27/05 — Goldsboro, North Lenoir football teams hoping to finish strong

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Goldsboro, North Lenoir football teams hoping to finish strong

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on October 27, 2005 2:03 PM

Football, like any sport, is all about moving forward. Unless it's the final game of the season, usually little time is spent dwelling on last week as teams gear up for their next opponent.

Goldsboro's football team is no different, but Cougars coach Maurice Jackson admits the last two games have been a little tougher than usual to get past.

After all, Goldsboro (2-7 overall) is merely several plays away from being 3-0 in the Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference instead of 1-2 heading into Friday's game at home against league-unbeaten North Lenoir.

Last week, the Cougars were knocking on the door to take a fourth-quarter lead at Farmville Central, before an interception and subsequent touchdown by the Jaguars hindered the comeback attempt. One week earlier, Goldsboro missed out on five opportunities inside the 20, including four at the one-yard line.

"We still know there is a chance for us to get in (the playoffs) and we're going to go out and play hard until the season's over," Maurice Jackson said. "We still think about it and talk about it, but we have to learn from those mistakes and move on. The close losses are probably tougher, because you know we have a chance to win. We know those two teams we lost to are not better teams than we are.

"We proved it everywhere else besides the scoreboard."

This week, the Cougars focus is to put together two, solid halves of football and not wait until the second half to turn up the intensity. It will take that kind of effort to slow down North Lenoir (4-5, 3-0 EPC), which is riding a three-game winning streak and is coming off of a 43-0 shutout of North Pitt.

Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at Goldsboro High.

"They (North Lenoir) are physically getting off the ball and their backs are running hard," Maurice Jackson said. "Their passing game is doing well. It seems like things are clicking on all cylinders."

Hawks coach Wayne Jackson admits it wasn't easy getting to this point. North Lenoir struggled with injuries, inexperience and a tough non-conference schedule and was 1-5 out of the gate this year before turning things around.

"It feels good to come from where we have been to be in this position. It's a tribute to our kids and seniors to hold it together," Wayne Jackson said. "I stressed to them we were playing good competition, and that will prepare you for these games. We lost a lot of players, had several that didn't come out, had injuries and our kids just stayed together and worked through it.

"Not to mention, we had to move a lot of kids around, and the kids were receptive to changing positions for what is best for the team."

Each team is led offensively by a pair of backs in the top tier of the area leaders.

Goldsboro's Treme Boone, who rushed for 182 yards on 26 carries with one touchdown against Farmville, is averaging 107 yards per game with 10 touchdowns on the season. Coming off of a 156-yard, one-touchdown effort against North Pitt, North Lenoir's Eric Whitfield is also posting 100 yards per game this year with nine TDs.

Quantterio Battle added 71 yards rushing for Goldsboro last Friday as the Cougar offensive line blocked solid in the second half. Goldsboro quarterback Adrian Lewis was just 5-of-23 for 41 yards with one interception against the Jaguars. Maurice Jackson believes the passing game has to be more efficient down the stretch.

"We've got the best receivers I think in the conference and in the county. I wouldn't be scared to put them against anybody in the state as a group," Jackson said. "We just have to get them in position to make plays. Adrian just has to get it out quickly and let the receivers take care of the rest."

Conversely, Hawks' quarterback Andrew Manning has attempted only 12 passes the last two weeks, but he's completed nine of them.

"We're not an air-it-out team, but we can pass it and be efficient," Wayne Jackson said.

Defensively, the Cougars have improved the last three weeks but are still yielding 27 points and 284 yards per game. The Hawks, coming off of their first shutout since Sept. 28, 2001, are giving up 23 points and 307 yards per outing.

In their season finales on Nov. 4, the Cougars travel to Bethel to face North Pitt (2-7, 0-3), while the Hawks take on Greene Central (5-4, 3-0) in Snow Hill.