11/20/05 — SW's run ends on road

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SW's run ends on road

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 20, 2005 2:18 AM

McLEANSVILLE -- An early defensive stop and a textbook opening-drive touchdown gave visiting Southern Wayne a little momentum Friday evening at Northeast Guilford.

Unfortunately for the visitors, the Saints wouldn't see the end zone again.

The Rams, seeded No. 2 in the 16-team eastern bracket, collected five touchdowns on six possessions and rolled to a 42-7 victory at Bill Bookout Stadium. Northeast Guilford (11-2) opposes conference rival Western Alamance in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A (small school) eastern semifinals next Friday.

Southern Wayne concluded the year 8-5.

"The first offensive drive was really good and they executed real well," said Saints coach Bob Warren, who took his fifth team to the playoffs since 2000. "That was just as good as you could ask (for) and I was very pleased with it."

The Saints forced the Rams to punt on their initial possession and took over at their own 27-yard line. Junior quarterback Michael Holland effectively blended the run and pass, and orchestrated a flawless nine-play, 73-yard drive.

Marcus Oates' diving, 15-yard touchdown catch over the middle of the end zone capped the 3-minute, 36-second possession. Preston Grantham booted the PAT for a 7-0 advantage.

Northeast Guilford never flinched and needed just four plays to force a 7-7 deadlock.

Quarterback Kendall Bratcher hooked up with Jay Smith for a 47-yard touchdown pass with 4:30 remaining in the opening quarter. The Rams collected two more touchdowns -- a 26-yard run by Antwan King and 2-yard scamper by Bratcher -- to claim a 21-7 lead at halftime.

"I don't really know what the difference was after that point (first TD)," Warren said. "Our kids were getting after it just like they always have, but they made it tougher on us. We just had difficulty (containing them).

"It's hard to say exactly what it was, but the effort was there."

Southern Wayne ended up scoreless on 10 possessions after the first-quarter touchdown.

Northeast Guilford held sophomore running back Anthony Council to a season-low 36 yards -- and no touchdowns -- on 13 carries as the sophomore finished his fine season with an area-best 2,129 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns. The Ram defense blocked well and kept Council from either finding the seam between the tackles or bouncing outside.

The Saints, who had 13 yards of total offense in the second half, finished with just 75 yards rushing on 29 carries. Backfield mate Derrick Lathan provided 30 yards on six carries. Holland passed for 37 yards on four completions, giving Southern Wayne 112 yards of total offense for the game.

"We were having difficulty running the football and that forced us to throw a little bit when we were having trouble matching up with them on the offensive line," said Warren. "I don't know what the factor was that created so much of a problem. I'll have to look (at the tape) and see."

Bratcher threw a third-quarter touchdown pass to Smith and rushed for another score in the first-ever playoff meeting between the two schools. Bratcher accounted for nearly half of the Rams' 405 yards of total offense.

Sophomore fullback Tyler Woods emerged the game's top rusher with 116 yards on 14 totes.

"We played a great football team tonight," said Warren.

Southern Wayne seniors Oates, Grantham, Michael Warren, Andre Langston, Lathan, Antwan Baynard, Joey Legg, David Combs, James Moore, Ricky Coley, Joseph Davis, Kegan Bly and Alton Lee played their final prep game.

"I couldn't be more proud of our seniors' leadership this year," said Warren, who is 1-5 all-time in playoff games.