10/31/06 — North Duplin downs Rosewood on Carolina 1-A scene

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North Duplin downs Rosewood on Carolina 1-A scene

By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on October 31, 2006 1:48 PM

Doug Lloyd put North Duplin in a position to win. Billy Mello delivered the knockout punch.

Lloyd threw for a touchdown and ran for another in the first half and Mello ate up the final six-plus minutes of the game with nine straight runs up the middle as the visiting Rebels slipped past Rosewood 14-7 Monday night at Branch Pope Field.

Michael Schilling added a team-high 112 yards on 19 carries as the Rebels improved to 7-2 overall and 3-1 in Class 1-A Carolina Conference play.

Rosewood (5-5) slipped to 1-3 in conference games.

"When these two teams get together, it's usually always tough, hard, close ballgames," North Duplin coach Hugh Martin said. "It was that way last year (in a 22-20 Rebels victory), and it was that way again tonight."

Both teams scored on their opening drives as North Duplin marched 75 yards in six plays to start the contest. Runs of 30, 9 and 6 yards by Schilling took the Rebels into Rosewood territory. Lloyd put North Duplin on the scoreboard first with a nifty 24-yard touchdown run that gave the visitors a 6-0 lead.

The Eagles, however, came right back as senior quarterback Josh Myers led Rosewood on an eight-play, 77-yard touchdown drive. Myers broke off a 20-yard run on the second play of the possession and was hit out of bounds which tacked on 15 more yards.

North Duplin cornerback Ryan Killette intercepted a Myers pass three plays later, but the junior was flagged for pass interference which gave Rosewood the ball back at the Rebels 34. Myers then scampered 23 more yards to the 11, and three plays later found receiver Cody Richards open in the back of the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown that put Rosewood ahead 7-6.

Myers finished with a game-high 118 yards rushing on 11 carries and was 3-of-6 passing for 51 yards and a TD, but took several big hits in the contest and sat out most of the second half. The Eagles were already playing without senior tailback Devon Bennett, who has 667 rushing yards and 11 TDs this season.

Bennett suffered a high ankle sprain against Ayden-Grifton back on Oct. 6, and re-aggravated the injury in a 50-24 win at Spring Creek two Fridays ago. Rosewood coach Daniel Barrow said Bennett will likely be out for another week or two.

The Rebels went back on top to stay midway through the second quarter as Lloyd found tight end Desi Smith wide open over the middle for a 50-yard touchdown.

"They were stopping our short game for the most part, and we had an opportunity to go deep, so we did," said Lloyd, who ended up 7 of 12 through the air for 133 yards. "Desi Smith has tremendous speed and was wide open there, I just made sure I got it to him."

After that, the defenses took over.

With Myers ailing, Rosewood managed just two first downs in the second half and none in the fourth quarter. The Rebels had a prime scoring opportunity late in the third quarter as Lloyd found receiver Demetrius Vann open deep in the post near the end zone, but a Rosewood defender stripped the ball after a 33-yard gain at the Eagles 2 and the home team pounced on the pigskin at the 3.

"It was a very physical football game -- a defensive game," Barrow said. "Both defenses played tough and give North Duplin credit, they were able to get in the end zone one more time than we were."

Mello, who didn't get a single carry during the first three-plus quarters, made sure the lead held up as North Duplin went to a power set in the backfield late in the game.

"We try to pick and choose when we get it to Billy on offense," Martin said. "He's a great running back and does a good job when we give him the ball. But he also plays a lot of defense for us, so we try to pick our spots to use that particular (power) set on offense. He helped us grind the clock down there at the end with a lot of tough runs."

With 6:35 left in the contest, North Duplin started handing the ball over and over to the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Mello, who churned out 47 yards and ate up the every single second with runs of 13, 5, 7, 8, 1, 3, 5, 3, and 2 yards.

"My job was to keep my team ahead, keep them on top and we did it together," said Mello, who is also a starting linebacker. "It was a very physical game, and it was good to get out of here with a win."