08/22/12 — Stevens: Golden Falcons must continue trend

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Stevens: Golden Falcons must continue trend

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on August 22, 2012 1:48 PM

For all the things Charles B. Aycock did right in its season-opening 26-0 win at Rosewood on Friday night, it was perhaps what the Golden Falcons did not do that was most important.

Aycock drew just one penalty and did not commit a turnover against the Eagles. That is a far cry from a year ago when opponents scored nine touchdowns off of turnovers in the Golden Falcons' first five games. Aycock was outscored 143-65 during that stretch last season.

The Golden Falcons received a boost from their defense which shut out an opponent for the first time since a 21-0 win on Sept. 17, 2010 at Wilson Fike. Limiting turnovers and penalties takes pressure off a defense and goes a long way toward producing more performances like the one the Aycock defense turned in against Rosewood.

"We did not have a game all last year where we had this few penalties or turnovers," Golden Falcons' head coach Randy Pinkowski said. "We've worked on our design offensively to do things that would eliminate turnovers. We knew that was going to be a key for us this year."

Working primarily out of the shotgun and relying heavily on zone-read plays, Aycock piled up 341 yards on the ground against Rosewood. The Golden Falcons displayed the depth that Pinkowski promised he had all offseason as eight different players recorded a carry.

Senior tailback Jeremy Hooks showed flashes of being the type of go-to back Aycock has lacked since Marcus Cobb graduated. Hooks rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown on just six carries, and showed the tackle-breaking ability that makes him hard to bring down.

Senior quarterback Austin Snowden made wise decisions in the option game and burned the Eagles with his feet on multiple occasions. Snowden finished with 79 yards rushing on seven carries and scored a pair of touchdowns.

As Aycock's schedule becomes more challenging, ball security -- particularly from Snowden -- grows in importance.

"We've got enough offensive weapons this year that we can spread it around a little bit and you are not going to be able to focus on Austin so much," Pinkowski said. "Austin did a good job of using his feet when things broke down to get positive yardage."

Senior tight end AJ Mundle was back in a football uniform on a Friday night for the first time in nearly two years since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament. Mundle did not record a catch against Rosewood, but his presence adds to an offense that arguably possesses more weapons than the Golden Falcons team that went 10-3 in 2009.

Thirty-six turnovers during the past two seasons were a significant factor in Aycock's combined 5-16 record during that time.

If the Golden Falcons are going to end the season better than the sixth-place finish that Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference coaches predicted in early August, it starts with taking care of the football like their season depends on it.

That is because it does.