09/28/12 — Rebels' ground game presents challenge to Cougars' defense

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Rebels' ground game presents challenge to Cougars' defense

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on September 28, 2012 1:48 PM

North Duplin knows it has unfinished business, while No. 10-ranked Goldsboro has visions of departing unbeaten in Carolina 1-A Conference play this season.

The teams meet tonight at Cougar Stadium at 7:30 p.m. in the league opener for both teams.

One year ago, Karon Alston's 77-yard kickoff return for a touchdown gave Goldsboro a 21-20 victory in Calypso. The Cougars have won all three meetings against the Rebels by an average of 26 points.

North Duplin's option-oriented offense averages 348 yards per game, seven yards a carry and 32 points a contest. Senior quarterback Tyler Royal is the team's leading rusher with 852 yards. Bruising 212-pound fullback Julio Mora has 675 yards and nine touchdowns.

The Rebels have rushed for 1,744 yards and 19 touchdowns as a team.

Establishing long, time-consuming drives that culminate in points and keep the Cougars' offense on the sidelines is a must for North Duplin. The Rebels (4-1 overall) also must stay ahead of the chains and avoid third-and-long situations.

"The key to staying out of third-and-long is avoiding penalties and mistakes in execution," North Duplin head coach Hugh Martin said. "Tyler's decisions are crucial. On most every play three different things could happen and he has to make those decisions almost instantaneously. He cannot guess or anticipate because defensive reactions can change with each new play."

Defensively, Goldsboro (4-1) has held its last three opponents to 14 points or fewer. Winning first and second down, and putting the Rebels into obvious passing situations is a priority for the Cougars.

North Duplin has completed just one of 10 attempted passes.

"They can really run the ball," Goldsboro head coach Eric Reid said. "Their fullback seems to get five or six yards a carry. It is going to come down to who is more physical. I think if we can control their offense it will give us an upper hand.

"The last thing we want is for them to possess the ball the majority of the game."

The Cougars' balanced offense is averaging 34 points and 307 yards a game.

Senior quarterback Julius Murphy has thrown for 764 yards and nine touchdowns with just three interceptions. Tailback Rasheed Malette has provided Goldsboro with the ground attack needed to keep opposing defenses honest. The speedy junior has rushed for 548 yards and eight touchdowns.

"We are the most balanced we've been since I've been here," Reid said. "If you put eight or nine guys in the box we can kill you through the air. If you put four or five defensive backs in the game, we beat you on the ground.

"Our motivation has been to finish unbeaten in our final year the conference and I know their motivation is going to be that they almost beat us in their house last year."