Rams surge past North Lenoir
By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on November 6, 2005 2:27 AM
By BRYAN C. HANKS
Courtesy Kinston Free Press
SNOW HILL -- In Greene Central's football program, junior quarterback Cameron Shelton is generously listed at 5-foot 11-inches and 175 pounds.
Against North Lenoir for the Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference championship on Friday, Shelton played like someone half a foot taller as he threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns, ran for two more and led the Rams to a 40-23 win against the Hawks.
The win finished a sweep of the EPC for the Rams, who concluded the regular season at 7-4 overall and 5-0 in the league.
"For our seniors to go out as conference champions on Senior Night, it's just exciting," Greene Central coach Jim Bob Bryant said.
Thanks to Shelton's performance on Friday -- along with that of the similarly undersized but lightning-quick Rams defense -- Greene Central won its third EPC title in four years.
Greene Central only led 14-9 at halftime and 21-15 with 8:30 left in the third quarter. But, an 8-play, 75-yard drive culminated with a 3-yard run by Damien Phillips with 4:49 remaining in the fourth quarter and the rout was on.
Shelton ran for a score and threw for another in the fourth quarter to provide the final margin. He refused to accept praise for his sterling performance against the Hawks.
"I have to give all the credit to my offensive line," Shelton said. "They blocked so well and had a heck of a game. It was all them."
Bryant didn't hesitate to brag on his quarterback, though.
"He's come a long way," Bryant said of Shelton. "At the beginning of the season, we put too much pressure on him. But I'm excited for Cameron; he needed a big game like this. I'm proud of him."
Although GC gave up 23 points to the Hawks, only nine came from the North Lenoir offense. The other 14 North Lenoir points came from an interception return for a touchdown by Eric Whitfield in the first quarter and a muffed punt recovered in the end zone by Jordan Smith.
In their five EPC wins, the Rams defense only gave up 15 points. Junior defensive end Brandon Sutton said he and his defensive teammates take it upon themselves to not let an opponent in the end zone.
"As a defense, we were doubted early," Sutton said. "When we started 2-4, nobody gave us a shot. But we came through for Greene County. It's our defense's job to let the other team know that they're not going to score more points than we do."
Bryant said, "I can't say enough about our defense and the job Coach (Andre) Quinnerly has done with it. We're not blessed with a lot of size but (Quinnerly) does the best job with what we have. Our defense is the backbone of our team. If I could have that defense every Friday night for the rest of my life, it would be great."
The Rams finished with 477 total yards of offense. Mario Brown led the rushing attack with seven carries for 65 yards, while Phillips (seven carries, 61 yards, one TD) and Shelton (13 carries, 40 yards, two TDs) were the other rushing leaders. Dreyan Willis had seven catches for two TDs and 98 yards for the Rams, while Harrison Walston had two catches for 80 yards. Tim McNair had the other TD reception for GC.
North Lenoir (4-7, 3-2) was led offensively by Whitfield, who had nine carries for 70 yards. Hawks quarterback Andrew Manning completed three of six passes for 49 yards and one TD to Marquez Outlaw. North Lenoir finished with 175 yards of offense.
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