11/20/05 — GC falls to Cummings

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GC falls to Cummings

By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on November 20, 2005 2:17 AM

SNOW HILL -- It was a powerful moment -- but it won't be one this team will be remembered for years from now.

Greene Central coach Jim Bob Bryant and his 13 seniors were sharing one final embrace on the frozen tundra of their home field.

Behind them, the scoreboard reflected the Rams' 26-0 loss Friday night to Burlington Cummings in Round 2 of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2-AA playoffs. It was a moving scene that very few stuck around to witness as the temperatures dipped into the 20s. Pretty much all of the huddled masses who braved this frosty night had retreated to the parking lot and were striking out for a warm home.

It was an emotional farewell the 13 seniors will remember, eventually fondly, for the rest of their lives. But the lasting legacy of this team will be how it rebounded from a 2-4 start, won the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference, and rolled off six triumphs in a row -- including a home playoff victory -- before Friday's season-ending setback.

"We have a very young football team here -- and those seniors did a lot to lead us from a 2-4 record to go through what I think is a tough football conference," said Bryant, whose team finishes the year at 8-5.

Cummings has also battled adversity this year. The Cavs (6-7) started their 2005 campaign 0-6, but now move on to the third round to take on No. 1-seeded Reidsville (10-3), a team that nipped Burlington earlier in the season.

It didn't take the Cavs long to click against the Rams defense as Cummings took the opening kickoff and marched 58 yards on six plays to grab an early 7-0 lead. On a third-and-5 play, quarterback Omar Stewart found wideout Dante Daye for a 41-yard strike to the Greene Central 11. Stewart finished the drive by weaving his way 8 yards for the game's first score less than three minutes into the contest

While the Cavs offense was red hot to start the game, the Rams sputtered, fumbling twice in the first quarter and running just six plays. Greene Central lost one of those fumbles and managed just 13 yards in the opening period.

The home team's defense, however, was Ram tough after the opening touchdown, forcing the Cavs to punt on their second possession, then stuffed the visitors at the Greene Central 1-foot line on a fourth-and-goal play toward the end of the first quarter.

The Rams offense, however, couldn't move the ball past their own 2-yard line after the turnover on downs, and a 22-yard punt gave the Cavaliers excellent field position.

On the very next play, Stewart connected with lanky wide receiver Antonio Ferguson for a 22-yard touchdown strike to make the score 13-0.

The Rams went three-and-out on their next drive, and Zane Cooper blocked a William Brown punt that went out of bounds at the Greene Central 1. Two plays later, Cummings workhorse Brandon Chrisp bulled his way in for a 1-yard touchdown to up the Cavs' lead to 19-0 at the half.

Chrisp finished with a game-high 81 yards on 26 hauls while fullback Audi Smith had 66 rushing yards on six attempts for Cummings. Stewart finished his night 6-of-18 passing for 94 yards, but was 0-of-7 in the second half with an interception.

Smith's 1-yard plunge with 4:30 to play in the contest sealed the victory.

Rams junior quarterback Cameron Shelton -- who concludes a fine season with 1,490 passing yards and 15 touchdown passes -- was under constant pressure and finished up 11-of-27 passing for 99 yards and was picked off twice. Harrison Walston had three receptions for 62 yards while Dreyan Willis had catches receptions for 26 yards. Willis finishes the season with an area-high 56 receptions for 820 yards while Walston wraps up the season with 28 catches for 603 yards.

Sophomore tailback Damien Phillips had a team-high 53 yards on nine carries.

Playing in their final game for the Rams were Mario Brown, Chris Hodges, Tim McNair, Kelsey Baker, Mike Sims, Willis, Toi Langley, Curtis Wright, Mari Bryant, Lance Murray, Marques Eanes, Charles Gamble and C.C. Cannon.

Greene Central actually had nearly as much total offense (221) as Cummings (257).

"Our defense played well, but we couldn't get any help on the offensive side," Bryant said.