Best dominates Vikings in fourth quarter
Published in Sports on November 5, 2006 2:02 AM
By DAVID HALL
Courtesy Kinston Free Press
KINSTON -- It looks like Kendrick Best has got the hang of this whole running back thing.
The Eastern Wayne senior -- playing in the backfield for just the second time in his life -- lit up the Kinston Vikings for 324 yards and four fourth-quarter touchdowns as the Warriors handed Kinston a 27-6 loss Friday in the final game of the regular season.
The loss ends a season of adjustment for the Vikings, who finished 2-9 overall and 0-5 in the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference. Eastern Wayne (7-4, 3-2), meanwhile, moves on to the playoffs with a new star on its hands.
Best, a wide receiver and defensive back by trade, stepped into a ball-carrying role two weeks ago when starter Andrew Blevins went on the shelf with a broken arm. Friday, Best did more than fill in; he filled out the Warriors' game plan.
Trailing 6-0 when the fourth quarter started, Eastern Wayne rode Best to what, in the end, looked like a blowout victory. But it was Best's 192 fourth-quarter yards on 13 carries -- including touchdown runs of 11, 81, 18 and 9 yards -- that sealed Kinston's fate.
"They just throwed me in there," Best, who rushed 31 times, said with a broad smile. "I'm going to remember it. It's my last regular season game, so I had to show out."
The Vikings struggled to move the ball against a stingy Eastern Wayne defense. Kinston mustered just 118 rushing yards, 92 of which came from quarterback Antonio Whitfield. The Vikings were held without a rushing first down until early in the fourth quarter, and they finished with three.
Kinston was without the services of leading rusher Michael Thompson, who left the game at the end of the first quarter with a hip pointer. First-year coach Tony Edwards called Thompson "probably 50, 60 percent of our offense."
Whitfield was 6-of-19 passing for 125 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions. Miguel Starkey caught three balls for 97 of those yards, including a wild touchdown reception to give the Vikings first blood.
With 53 seconds left in the first half, Whitfield lofted a bomb to Starkey down the right sideline. Eastern Wayne defender Dwight Ulmer, in perfect position, stepped in and tipped the ball up. But Starkey stayed with it, hauled it in, shook Ulmer and coasted to the end zone for a 50-yard TD.
Kinston kept the 6-0 lead until the 11:10 mark in the fourth, when Best crossed the goal line for the first time. From there, things only got uglier for the Vikings.
Eastern Wayne coach Jeff Price, a longtime coach at Kinston, got his first win at Vikings Field since leaving three years ago.
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