11/12/06 — Eastern Wayne nipped by Burlington Williams

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Eastern Wayne nipped by Burlington Williams

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 12, 2006 2:02 AM

BURLINGTON -- Patrick Kelley's third-quarter punt return for a touchdown gave Burlington Williams some breathing room and helped spark a 35-32 victory over Eastern Wayne on Friday evening.

Williams, the No. 7 seed, will travel to unbeaten Harnett Central in a second-round, N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-AA (large-school) playoff game next Friday.

Eastern Wayne, the 10th seed and directed by fourth-year head coach Jeff Price, ended the year 7-5. The Warriors suffered their fifth postseason defeat in six tries since 1978.

The Bulldogs rallied to take the lead twice in the second quarter and led 21-17 at halftime. Kelley's touchdown gave Williams an 11-point advantage.

"It was a heavy rush, a short punt and it's like we're in shock when he picks it up and returns it for the touchdown," said Price. "That was a game-breaker right there. We played a good game and were in it (all night)."

Eric Brofft's 2-yard run closed Williams' gap to 28-24. Williams extended its lead to 11 points again and Michael Mintz provided the final margin with a 2-yard run.

Mintz, in his first-ever playoff start, completed three passes for 43 yards. Kendrick Best and Dwight Ulmer perfectly executed a halfback option pass that resulted in a 64-yard touchdown in the opening quarter.

Best, the reigning News-Argus player of the week, emerged the Warriors' top rusher with 128 yards on 25 carries. Brofft finished with 34 yards on 13 totes.

Eastern Wayne outgained Williams 338-287.

"Clearly they weren't any better than we were," said Price. "But I told the guys when you can play with a team that plays for state titles, we have nothing to be ashamed of.

"The coaches have done a super job this year getting our guys prepared to play each week."