Greene Central defense grounds Bruins' air attack
Published in Sports on August 27, 2006 2:16 AM
By KEITH SPENCE
Kinston Free Press
SNOW HILL -- The Wilson Beddingfield spread offense, one of the most explosive and intimidating attacks in the state, made a stop at Greene Central High School Friday night.
But somebody forgot to tell Greene Central's defense they should be worried.
The Ram stop troops turned in a dominating performance, forcing five turnovers, scoring eight points, and laying enough hands on Beddingfield quarterback Dahnique Eddie that he could have filed harassment charges.
It all added up to an impressive 28-14 GC victory over a team that lost just two games last year and rolled up 47 points in its season opener against Northern Nash.
"It was a great team effort," Rams coach Jim Bob Bryant said. "Our defense set the tone, but the offense played well and our special teams were outstanding."
Yes, the defense set the tone. And then they dictated the outcome.
Greene Central picked off Eddie four times and held the athletic sophomore to just 109 yards passing. Eddie completed just 8 of 28 attempts through the air and constantly found himself running for his life.
"We thought we could get some pressure by blitzing from the weak side," said Greene Central junior linebacker Eric Johnson, who inflicted plenty of damage doing just that. "We played our responsibilities, listened to our coaches, and we were able to come up with some big plays."
Two of the biggest plays were of Johnson's doing.
With the Rams trailing 7-6 early in the third quarter, Johnson broke free on a blitz and hammered Eddie in the end zone for a go-ahead safety.
Two possessions later, Eddie was snuffed on a keeper by senior standout Brandon Sutton. The ball came free and Johnson was again in the right place at the right time, scooping up the fumble and racing 30 yards for a touchdown with 2:30 remaining in the period.
"Coach Bryant and Coach (defensive coordinator Andrea) Quinerly had enough confidence in me to turn me loose on the blitz," Johnson said. "We have so many great defensive players that I think (Beddingfield) forgot about me sometimes."
Special teams, in the form of punter William Brown, also played a huge role in the triumph. The reason Johnson was able to score the safety was because Brown had backed up the Beddingfield offense inside its own one with a brilliant 39 yard punt.
Harrison Walston hustled downfield to keep the punt from falling into the end zone, and then Cameron Shelton downed the ball.
"Not too many teams use their quarterback (Shelton) as their long snapper," Bryant said. "He and Harrison just made a tremendous hustle play that changed around the momentum of the game."
Shelton got off to a slow start behind center, as did the entire Rams offense.
Shelton completed just two of 12 passes for 10 yards in the first half, but then caught fire after the break, hitting on five of his next seven throws, including a huge 53-yard bomb to Walston.
That strike set up the first of two touchdown runs from Tyrell Lane and put GC on top 22-14 after three quarters.
"Cameron came out clicking in the third quarter and that helped set up our running game," Bryant said.
That running game was overpowering in the fourth quarter. The Rams churned out 64 yards on the ground in the final stanza and attempted just one pass.
Lane's second TD, a 10-yard jaunt with 4:09 to play, sealed the victory.
"I have to give our offensive line credit," Bryant said. "They just kind of took over in the fourth quarter. And J.J. (senior tailback Thompson) was a real workhorse."
The powerful Thompson carried six times for 36 yards down the stretch and finished with 92 hard-earned yards on 15 carries.
Other heroes for the Rams included Sutton (nine tackles, two sacks, one blocked punt, and one forced fumble), Danny Moye (nine tackles, one interception), and Darren Gorham, Curtis Braswell, and Lane, who each picked off a pass.
Brown punted seven times for a 42-yard average.
The Rams (2-0) will try to remain unbeaten next week when they travel to Charles B. Aycock in Pikeville for their first road test.
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