09/25/11 — Hawks top Saints, 35-18

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Hawks top Saints, 35-18

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 25, 2011 1:52 AM

ERWIN -- One play away?


Southern Wayne can only imagine.

Triton converted a third-quarter fumble into a 95-yard touchdown drive, and cruised past the previously-unbeaten Saints 35-18 on a foggy Friday evening in Harnett County.

Trailing 21-12 late in the third quarter, Southern Wayne lineman Taylor Brock pounced on a fumble at the Hawks' 23-yard line. On third-and-1, the Saints' Tyshawn Vann took the handoff and had open real estate to the end zone.

With a Triton defender closing in on the left side, Vann attempted to switch the ball to his right hand. He fumbled, Triton's Todd Penny recovered and 31/2 minutes later, the Saints faced a two-touchdown deficit in the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference affair.

"We're one fumble away from cutting it to one score and we've got the momentum, but you never know," said Southern Wayne head coach David Lee. "We finally got it rolling toward the second quarter and into the second half. The kids were playing hard and I couldn't ask for any better than what they did.

"That's a positive sign for our future."

Triton (5-1 overall, 2-0 ECC) crowded the box and prevented Southern Wayne from getting cranked up in its Wing-T offense in the opening quarter. The Saints netted just 24 yards of total offense on 14 plays and went 0-for-3 on third-down conversions on three possessions.

A fumbled snap, an interception and a penalty caused Southern Wayne to stall at different times during the first 12 minutes of action.

"A lot of times, including the corner, they had 11 people within six yards of the football and it's tough to run on that," said Lee, whose team trailed 21-0 in the first half. "But I thought when we went to (the) no-huddle (offense) and changed the pace, it gave our kids a little confidence especially when we started moving the football.

"The kids were running up to the line ready to go."

The fast-break scheme disrupted Triton's ability to change out defenders, depending on the down and yardage. Southern Wayne (4-1, 0-1) marched 65 yards in 10 plays, and capped its first touchdown drive with Jamie Dove's 15-yard scamper late in the second quarter.

Triton led 21-6 at halftime.

Dove's 56-yard, second-half kickoff return to the Hawks' 23-yard line set up a 12-yard scoring run by Vann, who finished with 102 yards rushing on 19 yards.

The teams traded punts and fumbles before Penny's recovery helped Triton put the game away. The Hawks, who play three of their final four ECC contests on the road, owned a 359-264 advantage in total offense. Dedrick Stacker and Kendrick Harris combined for 235 yards rushing and three touchdowns.