Defense bails out No. 1-ranked Tigers
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on September 14, 2008 10:58 AM
WARSAW -- Offense may put fans in the bleachers, but defense wins ballgames.
James Kenan used some stingy defense to overcome seven turnovers and the loss of its starting quarterback in 14-0 win over Pender on Friday night at Bill Taylor Field.
In a rematch of last season's 1-AA state semifinals, the No. 1-ranked Tigers (4-0 overall) held the Patriots to 136 yards of offense and forced three turnovers.
"Whenever we play Pender it's always like this," said James Kenan head coach Ken Avent Jr. "It's always low scoring and there's mistakes. Our defense bailed us out again. They played outstanding again. I'm just super happy with the way they played."
The Tigers' defensive effort masked a sluggish offensive performance. Kenan's first three possessions ended in turnovers.
The Tigers' first drive stalled on fourth down at the Pender 30-yard line, only after their initial fourth-down attempt was blown dead on an inadvertent whistle. A second failed fourth-down attempt from the Patriots' 7-yard line and a lost fumble kept Kenan out of the end zone.
"We made some mistakes on offense and we made some in the red zone," said Avent Jr. "We got down there and we had opportunities and we had the inadvertent whistle, and we couldn't get it clicking right.
"We moved the ball on Pender better than we have, we just couldn't get it in the end zone. But, our defense kept them from getting close so that was good."
Shawon Darden's 24-yard strike to Dasmine Smith set up Darden's 2-yard touchdown run three plays later early in the second quarter. German Funes-Bonilla's extra point put the Tigers in front 7-0.
Pender's offense never found a rhythm in the first two quarters. The Patriots' first four possessions resulted in punts and their fifth concluded when Hynef Collins was intercepted by Darius Heslip.
Kenan faltered twice more on fourth down, but maintained its 7-0 lead at the half.
The Patriots marched to the Tigers 33-yard line on the opening drive of the second half, but Collins' fourth down pass intended for Corey Branch fell incomplete in the end zone. After Kenan gave the ball right back with a fumble, Pender again failed to get on the board after driving inside the Tigers' 30-yard line.
Darden was knocked out of the game after taking a hard hit just before halftime. Smith was forced into duty and the junior engineered a 69-yard drive that culminated with his own 13-yard touchdown run with less than seven minutes to play in the ballgame.
The Patriots never recovered.
"Dasmine did a great job," said Avent Jr. "He made a couple of nice throws and got us in the end zone and kind of got us the cushion we needed. We just win ... it isn't always going to be pretty and that's fine. As long as we win the game we're going to be happy."
James Kenan hosts East Duplin next Friday.
Pender 0 0 0 0 -- 0
James Kenan 0 7 0 7 -- 14
JK -- Darden 2 run (Funes-Bonilla kick), 11:41
JK -- Smith 13 run (Funes-Bonilla kick), 6:57
First downs 8 10
Rushes-yds. 38-163 41-124
Passing-yds. 124 12
Total-yds. 287 136
C-A-I 8-13-0 1-8-1
Fumbles-lost 5-3 2-0
Penalties-yds. 3-15 7-45
RUSHING -- Pender -- Hynef Collins 16-57; Josh Johnson 15-40; Kelvin Smith 7-28; J.D. Powell 2-2; Keith Pearsall 1-(-3). James Kenan -- Victor Parker 15-106; Dasmine Smith 4-36, TD; Shawon Darden 5-19, TD; Jamar Rogers 5-5; Darius Heslip 1-2; Brian Moore 7-(-1); Wendell Miller Jr. 1-(-4).
PASSING -- Pender -- Hynef Collins 1-6-1, 12; Corey Branch 0-1; Travis Carter 0-1. James Kenan -- Shawon Darden 6-10-0, 92; Dasmine Smith 2-3-0, 32.
RECEIVING -- Pender -- Kelvin Smith 1-12. James Kenan -- Demetrius Vann 2-54; Dasmine Smith 1-24; Brian Moore 1-16; Darius Heslip 1-16; Josh Hicks 2-8; Kendric Faison 1-6.
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