Eagles sting Yellow Jackets
By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on September 10, 2006 2:21 AM
The Rosewood Eagles are starting to get defensive.
The Eagles defense grounded Roanoke Rapids' offensive attack and Devon Bennett and Chris Holmes eclipsed the 100-yard mark and as the Rosewood beat the Yellow Jackets 31-21 on Friday night at Branch Pope Field.
Bennett ran for 164 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries with Holmes adding 105 yards and a score on just nine hauls. Cody Richards and quarterback Josh Myers also had rushing touchdowns for Rosewood (2-2) as the Eagles defense forced a pair of turnovers and stopped Roanoke Rapids (0-4) on fourth down five times.
After giving up a whopping 390 yards of total offense a game last season, Rosewood is starting to get back on track on the defensive side of the football. In their two wins this season, the Eagles are allowing about 200 yards a contest and gave up just one touchdown Friday night against the Jackets as Roanoke Rapids standout Trimaine Simmons returned two Rosewood fumbles for touchdowns.
"I'm so proud of our defense, and you know what, they're getting better each and every week," Rosewood coach Daniel Barrow said. "The defense, as a unit, just reads and reacts very well and that makes you pretty good."
The Eagles offense was pretty good, too, as Rosewood rolled up 319 yards on the ground and finished with 370 yards of total offense.
After senior defensive lineman Andre Everette recovered a fumble at the Roanoke Rapids 45 on the visitors' opening possession, it took Rosewood just seven plays to find the end zone. A 13-yard run by Bennett and a huge 16-yard pass from Myers to Garrett Howell on a fourth-and-3 play put the Eagles inside the 10, and Richards punched it in from 2-yards out to give the home team a 7-0 lead.
The Eagles, playing in their second game since Tuesday, got back on the scoreboard on the first play of the second quarter as Myers ran for a 3-yard score. Rosewood began the drive with great field position after the defense stuffed Jackets running back John Motley for a 2-yard loss on fourth-and-inches at the Rosewood 45.
"We were a little tired, but youth is great because youth is very resilient," said Barrow, whose team lost 23-12 to visiting Hobbton on Tuesday evening. "If it had been me, I couldn't have played, but they can bounce back so quickly. Youth is great -- youth is so wonderful."
After forcing Roanoke Rapids to go three-and-out on its next drive, Bennett had a 29-yard run before breaking loose for a 30-yard touchdown that put Rosewood up 19-0 just more than three minutes into the second quarter.
With less than a minute to go in the opening half, Simmons stripped the ball out of the hands of Bennett and rolled 40 yards to paydirt to cut Rosewood's advantage to 19-7.
Myers, however, took the ensuing kickoff back 92 yards to set up another score -- a 6-yard sweep by Bennett with just three seconds left before the intermission.
Bennett, who scored six touchdowns in Rosewood's season-opening win over Mattamuskeet, now has 393 rushing yards and 10 TDs.
"This was a big win," Bennett said. "It was a great team effort -- the defense came out and kept them from moving the ball and we were able to get our running game going."
Myers was 3-of-7 passing for 51 yards, rushed for 14 yards and a touchdown, and had the big return that set up Rosewood's fourth TD, but didn't play in the second half after becoming ill at halftime.
"Josh Myers gave us a great effort tonight and had that wonderful kick return," Barrow said. "He felt real dizzy and got sick at halftime and he said, 'I can go, coach, but I don't feel good.' I said, 'That's fine, we'll go with Joey (Boyette).' And Joey came in, did a great job and the offensive line took care him."
With Boyette, a senior, under center in the second half, Rosewood didn't attempt a pass, but did put a touchdown on the board as Holmes ran for a 29-yard score in the third quarter.
"Usually after playing Rosewood, you know what your strengths and weaknesses are," Yellow Jackets coach Tim Bennett said. "Right now, we're struggling, but the guys are playing hard and aren't giving up. We're a young football team -- we had 16 seniors last year that we've had to replace, and we'll keep getting better as we gain experience."
The Jackets got a 28-yard touchdown pass from Trase Jones to Justin Blue, and Simmons grabbed the ball away from Richards and took it back 37 yards for a score early in the fourth quarter. But Jonathan Peedin intercepted a Jones pass and Roanoke Rapids turned the ball over on downs on its final two drives of the night as Rosewood held on for the 10-point triumph.
"The fourth-down stops gave us a lot of momentum in this one," Rosewood senior linebacker Bradley Mullins said. "Getting those big plays fired us up, and our offense went out there and put the ball in the end zone."
Barrow said he knew the Yellow Jackets wouldn't roll over in the second half.
"We kept our intensity throughout the football game and we didn't panic when they came back," Barrow said. "We know Roanoke Rapids historically doesn't give up and historically comes back when they get down. It didn't surprise me when they came roaring back, but I thought we did a good job of doing what we had to do to preserve the win."
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