08/20/06 — Bennett's six TDs lead Eagles in rout

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Bennett's six TDs lead Eagles in rout

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 20, 2006 2:25 AM

Rosewood's first-string defense played superb for two-plus quarters and senior halfback Devon Bennett shined offensively on a humid Friday evening at Branch Pope Field.

The Eagle defenders converted two of three turnovers -- one fumble and two interceptions -- into touchdowns and limited Mattamuskeet to minus-9 yards rushing in the opening half. The Lakers failed on every third- and fourth-down attempt -- a stretch of 32 consecutive offensive plays -- until midway through the third quarter.

Hampered by a nagging hamstring, Bennett accounted for 281 all-purpose yards and a phenomenal six touchdowns in Rosewood's season-opening 54-16 romp over fellow Class 1-A member Mattamuskeet. The Eagles improved to 7-7 all-time in season-opening games during head coach Daniel Barrow's 14-year tenure.

Bennett, also an outstanding sprinter, returned the second-half kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown. His fourth-quarter, 80-yard kickoff return was negated by a clipping infraction and medical trainers attended to his injury while the officials sorted out the penalty.

"I think Bennett cramped up about at the 20 on that (last) return," said Barrow. "He has a history in track with his hamstring cramping and pulling. We'll get it checked out real good Monday.

"Offensively, we saw a lot of good things ... big runs. I would have felt better if we could have had maybe a 10- or 12-play drive (sometime)."

Rosewood's defense created quality field position for its offense throughout the 48-minute affair. The Eagles started seven of their nine possessions inside Mattamuskeet territory, including two near the Lakers' red zone.

Bennett found the end zone on touchdown runs of 1, 40, 6, 28 and 29 yards. Teammates Chris and Josh Holmes added touchdowns on runs of 6 and 27 yards, respectively.

"Defensively, I'll tell you, I was real pleased with gang tackling; having a bunch of folks get to the ball early," said Barrow. "When you looked, there were a bunch of purple shirts around (the ball)."

Mattamuskeet, which returns its entire offensive line, finally converted its first third-down play late in the third quarter. The Lakers finished 2-for-8 on third-down conversions overall and misfired on two fourth-down attempts.

Defensive coordinator Josh Smith attributed the success against Mattamuskeet's veer offense to working against the same type of offense in practice. The Eagle defense constantly shut down the first-team offense.

"Any time you're defending the veer, it's tough because you have to account for three people," said Smith. "Going up against our offense (in practice) and in the purple-gold game last week, we shut the offense down.

"It's something to take pride in because if our offense can't run against us, we don't want anyone running against us."

The line of Holt Rains, Matt Lassiter, Andrew Forehand and Jaren Hines played well. Hines had three stops for negative yardage, a quarterback sack and second-quarter fumble recovery. Rains and junior linebacker David Templeton each sacked Laker backup signal caller Marshall Gill late in the second quarter.

Smith also got great play from linebackers Bradley Mullins, Robert Franks, Clarence Toran and Chris Hare.

"All preseason we've talked about getting to the ball ... team defense," said Smith. "Tonight, we read our keys and took our first step which got us to the football. Once we knew where it was going, we all got to one point and just attacked."

Mattamuskeet avoided the Eagles' shutout bid with two fourth-quarter touchdowns.

Rosewood travels to Chocowinity Southside next Friday in the season opener for the Seahawks.