09/21/08 — Dixon comes from behind at North Duplin

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Dixon comes from behind at North Duplin

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 21, 2008 7:08 AM

CALYPSO -- North Duplin tended to its knitting for three-plus quarters against Holly Ridge Dixon on an unseasonably cool Friday evening.

Then everything came unraveled.

The Bulldogs tallied two fourth-quarter touchdowns within 41/2 minutes and claimed a come-from-behind, 21-20 victory at H.E. Grubbs Field.

North Duplin (2-3 overall) suffered its third consecutive defeat this season and endured back-to-back home losses for the first time since 2005. Dixon evened its 2008 worksheet at 2-2 with both victories coming against Class 1-A Carolina Conference foes.

"We've tended to be a second-half team this year," said Dixon head coach Dal Tomlinson. "In the fourth quarter, we made some adjustments in our running (game). Michael Cline inspired our offensive line that once they saw they could get some positive yardage, they really stepped up.

"All it took was a couple of runs and everybody got excited. Adrenaline goes along way."

Cline, who saw little action at outside linebacker through three quarters, provided some fresh paws to the Dogs' offense. His two carries helped set up Chris Lawson's 28-yard touchdown strike to Tyler Johnson, which pulled Dixon within 20-14 at the 5-minute mark.

After North Duplin failed to move the chains on its next possession, the Dogs took over at the Rebels' 41-yard line. Lawson, again, hitched up Dixon's wagon to Cline, who reeled off 37 yards on four consecutive rushes.

Cline's final tote, a 7-yard dash, put Dixon on North Duplin's 4-yard line with less than a minute remaining in regulation. Two plays later, Lawson called his own number and Kroger's PAT sealed the comeback win.

"We couldn't stop the running game," said Rebels head coach Hugh Martin. "We sure couldn't stop (Cline). The possession before we had a penalty and we couldn't get a first down to control the clock."

Dixon grabbed a 7-0 lead on Lawson's 22-yard, first-quarter touchdown pass to Quan Nixon. A fumbled punt return set up North Duplin's first score, a 2-yard plunge by senior Akeem Cox. But the Rebels misfired on the first of two, two-point conversions, which later factored into the outcome.

North Duplin's defense forced a punt on the Dogs' first possession of the second half. Going back to the basics, the Rebels marched 81 yards in 16 plays for the go-ahead touchdown. Cox's 10-yard scamper capped the eight-minute drive.

Again, the two-point conversion failed.

"The third quarter was hard on us," said Tomlinson.

The Rebels, with Cox as the workhorse, seized a two-touchdown advantage on their next possession. Marcus Kornegay ended an eight-play, 60-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run. Cox added the two-point run to make it 20-7 midway through the final period.

Cline stood quietly on the sideline.

"I had been keeping my eye on him," said Tomlinson.

Cline finished with a team-high 49 yards on eight carries, nearly one-third of the Dogs' rushing output of 155 yards. Dixon compiled 214 yards of total offense and yielded 252 to the Rebels, including a 166-yard effort from Cox.

Senior Blake King led North Duplin's defense with 15 tackles, while senior Xavier Lee contributed 10. Junior Michael Warren and senior Shelton Johnson added eight stops apiece.