10/08/06 — Gators cage Dawgs on Carolina 1-A scene

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Gators cage Dawgs on Carolina 1-A scene

Published in Sports on October 8, 2006 2:21 AM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- Defense and special teams' play factored into Spring Creek's triumph over Princeton at "The Swamp" on Friday evening.

The Gator defense recorded a safety and recovered a blocked punt in the end zone during the second quarter of their 16-6 victory over the Bulldogs. It was the Class 1-A Carolina Conference opener for both teams.

Spring Creek improved to 3-4 overall and remained unbeaten in six outings against Princeton, which departed 2-5 overall.

The teams traded turnovers on a combined four offensive plays early in the opening period. The second miscue, committed by the Bulldogs inside the Gators' red zone, led to Spring Creek's first score on a cold, rainy night.

Quarterback Emmanuel Hinton directed a 16-play drive that ended on Josh Wright's 1-yard plunge at the 1-minute, 42-second mark. Hinton rambled 13 yards on a key 4th-and-8 play that helped set up Wright's ninth rushing touchdown of the season.

The defense accounted for Spring Creek's next score.

Backed up inside its 15-yard line on a booming 51-yard punt by Wright, the Bulldogs got thrown for a 9-yard loss. On the next play, the defense tackled Princeton fullback Kevin Foy in the end zone for a safety.

With less than three minutes remaining before halftime, the Spring Creek defense posted another big play. Tackle Dwight Strickland burst through the line and blocked a Princeton punt. Josh Gammon recovered the loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown.

The Gators led 16-0 at halftime.

Princeton's offense, which managed just 87 yards -- all rushing -- on 40 plays suffered a further setback in the second half. Quarterback Matthew Blackwell sustained a leg injury and did not return.

"We could not get anything going offensively after we lost our quarterback," said second-year Princeton coach Russell Williamson.

The Bulldogs, however, averted the shutout on Foy's 88-yard gallop in the final quarter. Foy finished with 83 yards rushing on eight carries.

Spring Creek piled up just 156 yards of total offense. Wright and Hinton combined for 120 yards on 39 rushes.

"They have the best tackling defense we have played all year," said Gators coach Roy Whitfield. "We were fortunate to win. The safety and the block punt were big plays for us."

The teams continue Carolina Conference play next Friday. Spring Creek is the guest of Ayden-Grifton, while Princeton entertains North Duplin.