By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 27, 2011 1:49 PM
Cleveland wasted little time spoiling Homecoming festivities at Eastern Wayne on a humid Monday evening.
The Rams needed just six offensive plays and 31/2 minutes to seize a two-touchdown lead before a late-arriving crowd could settle into its seats at Little Big Horn.
Junior quarterback Tre Joyner accounted for five touchdowns in a 41-14 victory over the winless Warriors in Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference action. Joyner accumulated 235 of the Rams' 354 yards of total offense.
"We went down early and that's become customary for us this year for whatever reason," said third-year Eastern Wayne head coach Bubba Williams. "The first two drives he (Joyner) did (bother us) and then I think we kind of settled down a little bit, except for a blown coverage. We were not taking the gap and they were hitting it.
"After we fixed that after the second series, we got to playing good defense for a little while."
And the offense found life.
Tykwan Days' 50-yard touchdown gallop closed the gap to 14-6 midway through the opening quarter. Warrior quarterback Jake Wiser directed a 14-play, 66-yard drive that ended on Javon Darden's 11-yard run late in the second quarter.
Cleveland (5-1 overall, 2-0 ECC) answered with Joyner's 60-yard touchdown strike to Alex Swain, which started a run of 27 consecutive points.
"We battled back and our guys showed a lot of heart for doing that," said Williams. "We gave up the big play and that broke our back again. We just have to limit the big play and take care of individual responsibilities."
Eastern Wayne (0-6, 0-2) took over at its 36-yard line after Joyner's TD pass. Wiser drove the Warriors down to the Rams' 35-yard line where the drive stalled as time expired.
But it was a costly possession. Avner Clark aggravated a left knee injury during the series and did not return the second half. His absence forced Williams to make more adjustments on an offensive line already depleted by injuries.
"Avner was our second tight end," said Williams. "Our first tight end (Connor Preston) was playing tackle because we had two concussions. We just don't have the depth to recover from things like that."
The Warriors grinded out 23 yards on 19 offensive plays in the second half. Cleveland's defense recorded eight tackles for loss and its offense put three more touchdowns on the board.
"We were searching for ways to move the ball and try to score with not having people in the right positions, and we couldn't find it," said Williams. "There's definite improvement week to week and we are getting better in some spots. We've just got to prepare our kids a little better. We're closer than what the scoreboard says.
"We have to play from the beginning and throughout (the game)."