Game of the Week: Rams hold off Goldsboro
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 15, 2006 2:02 AM
SNOW HILL -- Tears flowed freely down offensive lineman Donald Pollock's sweat-stained face while he leaned on a Goldsboro High teammate.
Steam rose from players' bowed heads as they listened to head coach Maurice Jackson's inspiring postgame talk. But the stirring words that Jackson offered provided little solace on a night when the Cougars gave their best effort of the 2006 season.
One untimely penalty and a slip on the dew-covered turf allowed state-ranked Greene Central to survive Goldsboro's upset bid 27-20 on Friday evening. The Rams (7-1) remained unbeaten on the Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference scene at 2-0, while the Cougars (0-2 EPC) exited with their eighth consecutive loss.
During pregame warm-ups, Goldsboro players bounced around and shouted "let's shock the world."
They nearly did.
Trailing 27-20 after a Greene Central score, the Cougars attempted a little tomfoolery on the kickoff return and nearly treated Jackson to his first victory of the season. Aware the Rams would key on Tremé Boone, Jackson pulled the reverse from the playbook and it worked like a charm.
Boone handed off to Hykeen Coley, who tucked the ball into his chest and burst through the Ram defense for a 76-yard touchdown run. Greene Central players stood in shock, but sighed in relief when they saw a yellow flag laying near the 15-yard line.
"We saved that all night just so we could do that," Jackson said. "It was an opportune time ... a perfect moment. We knew they would be keying on Boone on the return, so we snuck Coley in the backdoor on that reverse.
"We just didn't get it when we needed it."
The back-breaking penalty pushed the ball back to the Greene Central 30. Boone rushed three times down to the Rams 11. Two rushing plays netted five yards and set up a 4th-and-3 at the Greene Central 6.
Boone took the handoff from Kornegay, cut to his left and slipped on the turf. His knee touched at the 7 and the Rams defense had held.
"We were fortunate to make a few plays at the end of the game when our defense needed to bow its back," said Greene Central head coach Jim Bob Bryant.
Goldsboro pulled within 14-12 on the opening drive of the third quarter. Jackson switched to the misdirection "T" offense and the Rams had no answer defensively for the Cougars' speed.
Boone, Coley and Justin Hall emerged the workhorses during the 7-play, three-minute drive. Hall's 28-yard burst through the middle pushed the ball inside Greene Central territory. Boone grinded out the remaining 47 yards on four consecutive carries, and finished off the possession with a 3-yard dive off right tackle.
Boone, the EPC's leading returning rusher, finished the night with 157 yards on 26 carries. He boosted his season totals to 950 yards and five touchdowns on 171 rushes.
"Our defensive coaches got our spurs (ends) outside and forced that power sweep inside back to our linebackers, and that's when we stopped them a little bit," Bryant said. "Boone is heckuva back ... a stud. He is by far one of the best backs in the east, I think. He did a great job tonight."
The teams traded third-quarter touchdowns.
Greene Central's defense forced Kornegay into a bad pass, which J.J. Thompson intercepted and returned it 23 yards to paydirt. The Cougars climbed within 21-20 on its next possession when Boone broke free on a 21-yard touchdown run around right end.
Thompson provided the Rams' final touchdown, a 23-yard romp that led to a 27-20 advantage and the nail-biting ending.
The Rams, ranked No. 8 in the latest Associated Press prep poll, improved to 15-2 against EPC opposition during Bryant's four-year tenure. That includes an 8-1 mark at home in conference play.
"Our kids don't quit and we don't care what records are," said Jackson. "These kids could have easily come here, laid down and stunk the place up. But that's not the attitude our kids.
"They believe in fighting until that (final) horn blows."
The Cougars did.
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