11/18/12 — Tigers outlast Red Devils, reach east final

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Tigers outlast Red Devils, reach east final

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on November 18, 2012 1:53 AM

WARSAW -- Some teams would be ecstatic over reaching the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-AA (large-school) east regional championship game.

There would be an on-field celebration, a coach doused with Gatorade and fans jumping out of the stands to congratulate the players.

Not at James Kenan.

The Tigers simply shook hands with their opponent and huddled near midfield following the team's 68-41 blowout over Red Springs on Friday night. They've been here and done that.

Next is a home date with Southwest Onslow and a trip to the state finals.

"I am really proud of my kids because we played hard all night," James Kenan head coach Ken Avent Jr. said. "This was a crazy game, but we never got down and hung our heads."

A shootout was apparent from the opening Red Springs possession.

The Red Devils drove the ball down the field on a five-play drive and took the lead on Jedarian Lesane's 1-yard run. James Kenan immediately answered with Ja'Quan Williams' 58-yard scoring run.

The Red Devils regained the lead three plays later when C.J. McGeatchy hauled in a pass from Blake Greene, but the momentum was short lived. James Kenan answered a minute later with a Marcelias Sutton touchdown scamper.

Following Sutton's touchdown, McGeatchy ran the kick-off back 74 yards for a touchdown. The Red Devils led 21-14 after one quarter.

"It was just one big play after another early in the game," Avent Jr. said. "They could not stop us on the ground and we were having trouble stopping them for sure."

James Kenan seized the momentum early in the second quarter when the defense forced an intentional grounding in the end zone and was awarded a safety. On the Tigers' ensuing possession, Williams broke around the left end and raced 17 yards to the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown that put the Tigers in front 22-21.

From that point on, the game was all James Kenan.

Sutton added a touchdown on the Tigers' next possession and a defensive lapse by the Red Devils allowed a 23-yard touchdown pass from Dominique Barnes to T.J. Fullwood to close the half.

James Kenan enjoyed the 35-21 lead in the locker room and came out fired up in the second half.

"I told the guys that Red Springs was a team that could come back in a hurry," Avent Jr. said. "We needed to win the third quarter and we did that."

James Kenan scored two touchdowns in the third quarter and put the game on ice. The Tigers found plenty of time for their reserves in the fourth quarter and continued the onslaught. Sutton, Frederick Miller and John Winston each added a rushing touchdown in the period and capped the 68-41 total.

The Tigers finished with 555 yards of total offense and 532 yards rushing. Sutton led the team with 223 yards on 24 carries and three touchdowns. Ja'Quan Williams added 211 yards on 18 totes and scored three times.

Red Springs tallied 410 yards of offense. Greene completed 16 passes for 192 yards and two scores. Lesane added 132 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.

"If you would have told me the final score would have been 68-41, I would not have liked our chances," Avent Jr. said. "That isn't really our style, but tonight our guys made it work."