Chargers ground Eagles in Carolina 1-A opener
By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on October 8, 2006 2:25 AM
A banged-up Rosewood team committed six turnovers and was held to just 28 yards of total offense and a pair of first downs in the first half Friday as Ayden-Grifton beat the Eagles 43-21 on homecoming night at Branch Pope Field.
Rosewood (4-3, 0-1 Carolina Conference), already playing without injured senior fullback Chris Holmes, saw leading rusher Devon Bennett go down with an ankle injury early in the second quarter less than a minute after the senior broke off an electrifying 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to cut the Ayden-Grifton lead to 22-7.
Bennett, who came into the contest with 646 yards on the ground, 11 rushing touchdowns and an 8-yards-a-carry average, was held to just 12 yards on six attempts before twisting his left ankle. He tried to take back a kickoff in the third quarter, but hobbled off the field and did not return.
"Offensively, we're hampered right now with some injuries," Rosewood coach Daniel Barrow said. "We didn't have our regular fullback (Holmes). He had a concussion last week, and we erred on the side of caution and held him out. And then we lost our top halfback when Devon went down in the first half.
"But the guys who filled in worked hard and did everything they could."
While the Rosewood offense sputtered in the first half, the Chargers were hitting on all cylinders as fullback Josh Hunter broke off an 82-yard touchdown run up the middle on Ayden-Grifton's first offensive play of the night. Hunter ended up with a game-high 102 yards on seven carries.
After the Eagles went three-and-out for a second time, the Chargers moved right down the field again as quarterback Matt Dougherty capped off a six-play, 43-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass off a screen to J.D. Strickland for the 14-0 lead after one quarter.
Dougherty finished 6-of-15 for 57 yards through the air with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Playing on a short field for pretty much all of the first half, the visitors expanded their lead to 22-0 early in the second quarter as Dougherty ran for a 5-yard score to conclude an eight-play, 47-yard drive.
Bennett put the Eagles on the scoreboard with his 86-yard TD return on the ensuing kickoff, but three Rosewood turnovers on its final three possessions of the half allowed the Chargers to take a 30-7 lead into the intermission.
During the first two quarters, Ayden-Grifton outgained Rosewood 233-28.
"Ayden-Grifton has a fine football team," Barrow said. "In the first half, they pretty much took it to us. They did a good job of attacking offensively, they ran the ball well and threw it when they had to."
During the final two quarters, the Rosewood defense stepped up and held the visitors to just 36 yards of total offense, two first downs, blocked a punt and hurried Dougherty into a poor 5-yard punt. But an Eagles turnover led to a 12-yard touchdown drive for Ayden-Grifton, and Perseus Williams returned a kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown to put the contest out of reach.
Williams scored three touchdowns on the night -- one rushing, one receiving and one on special teams.
"In the second half, we came out and had a lot of intensity. I thought we played hard and we didn't fold our tents and put 14 points on the board," Barrow said. "Our defense made some pretty big stops, but we had a big hole to dig out of."
Rosewood quarterback Josh Myers accounted for pretty much all of the Eagles offense Friday night as the senior ran for touchdowns of 15 and 85 yards in the second half. He finished with team-high 95 yards on nine carries and was 3-of-11 passing for 27 yards, but fumbled the ball away three times and threw a pair of interceptions.
"We didn't do a good job of protecting the football tonight," Barrow said. "Some of it was timing and execution, and some of it was simply not protecting the football."
Take away Myers' 85-yard score, which came late in the game after the Chargers had pulled their first-team defense, and the Eagles had just 67 total yards on the night.
"We knew Ayden-Grifton was a good football team going in," Barrow said. "We still have a lot of good football teams left on our schedule, so we have to keep getting better."
NOTES: The Eagles will hit the road this Friday as Rosewood plays at North Johnston (4-3), the defending Carolina Conference champions. Ayden-Grifton (5-2) hosts Spring Creek (3-4) the same evening ... Rosewood attempted a 27-yard field goal in the third quarter, but the ball got away from the holder and kicker Cameron Lowe was thrown for a 16-yard loss. ... Filling in for Bennett and Holmes in the backfield were Eric Martel (19 rushing yards), Cody Richards (2 yards) and Bryan Jones (2 yards). ... Rosewood receiver Stephen McIntyre had 11 yards receiving and 11 yards rushing and Richards had two receptions for 16 yards.
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