11/16/08 — Bears' line open holes against Warriors

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Bears' line open holes against Warriors

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 16, 2008 2:00 AM

AHOSKIE -- Eastern Wayne avoided the right hook.

But the knockout blow came moments later.

After stopping Hertford County on four downs inside their 25-yard line, the Warriors exhaled a huge sigh of relief. That ease soon turned to disappointment when the Bears' Larry Raynor picked off a tipped pass and returned it for a touchdown.

Hertford County rolled from there.

Eleven different running backs combined for a whopping 407 yards rushing in the Bears' 57-13, opening-round victory over the Eastern Wayne in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A (small-school) playoffs. The 13th-seeded Warriors concluded regular-season play 5-7 overall and remained winless in the postseason since 1978.

"It must be nice to line guys up and run off tackle all night, and that's exactly what they did," said Eastern Wayne head coach Jeff Price. "They were absolutely massive and they have a couple of Division I linemen. They're very good."

The fourth-seeded Bears (10-2) needed just two plays to find the end zone on their first offensive series. Quarterback Antonio Vaughan sloshed his way through blocks for a 59-yard touchdown run.

Two possessions later, Raynor's pick six put the Bears ahead 14-0.

"After that (Raynor's score), it was like the floodgates opened," said Price. "It seemed like when we get something good to happen and think things might change, we had something happen to progress us from moving forward ... things to keep us from being successful."

Hertford County built a 21-0 advantage, but Eastern Wayne avoided the shutout midway through the second quarter. Senior quarterback Dan Price hooked up with Lamar Best on a 21-yard touchdown pass. Price, who has 12 TD tosses this season, finished 8 of 17 for 98 yards and three interceptions.

In addition to Raynor, the Bears' Ivan Coulton (6-foot-5) returned a third-quarter interception for a score. Coulton also perfectly executed a trip drill, which led to Raynor's first-quarter touchdown.

"It's tough for our guys to deal with two defensive ends who are 6-foot-6," said coach Price.

Eastern Wayne added a third-quarter touchdown. Mac Stover bowled over from the 3-yard line to make it 38-13. Stover finished with a hard-earned 67 yards on 21 carries and concluded the season with 800-plus yards.

"Mac has done a super job of stepping in basically halfway through the season," said Price. "He's a great athlete and he's a good receiver out of the backfield, and runs the ball hard. Our passing improved this year and Dan has thrown the ball reasonably well.

"We've been fairly balanced, but not enough on the board, especially defensively to get the other team off the field."

Six of the Warriors' seven losses this season resulted in lopsided fashion.

"(Those losses) came against teams where we were out-manned per pound and could not physically play with them," said Price. "That's a little bit disheartening."