Wiser's TD fumble return keeps EW's perfect start intact
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 29, 2013 1:03 PM
WINTERVILLE -- Eastern Wayne remained perfect on the gridiron in miraculous fashion Friday evening.
Jake Wiser returned a fumble 78 yards to the end zone and capped the Warriors' spine-tingling, come-from-behind 34-28 victory over South Central in the Eastern Carolina 3-A/4-A Conference opener for both teams.
The Warriors became the first county team to start a season 5-0 since 2009, and just the ninth overall in the past five decades.
"It's great, the best feeling in the world," Wiser said of the record-setting start.
Eastern Wayne put together its best offensive drive of the second half -- a 7-play, 72-yard possession that ended on Lavoris Vick's 25-yard scamper. The Falcons snuffed out the two-point conversion at the goal line, which left the Warriors down 28-26 with 3:06 remaining in regulation.
South Central (1-5 overall, 0-1) took the ensuing kickoff and took six plays to move within two yards of the Warriors' red zone. On 2nd-and-11, Shawn Furlow took the hand-off from Cunningham and was gang-tackled near the Falcons' sideline.
Warriors' head coach Bubba Williams almost asked the referees to call forward progress, until he saw Wiser headed in the other direction with a pack of teammates shielding him from Falcon tacklers. In what seemed like an eternity, Wiser waltzed into the end zone for the game-winning TD with 2:03 left on the clock.
"(Furlow) had his arm out, I stripped it and I just saw green," Wiser said. "It's the fastest I've ever ran before in my whole life. Everything was in slow motion, but I got there."
Vick added the two-point conversion and the defense forced a three-and-out series to keep Eastern Wayne's perfect season intact.
"I really thought they needed to call forward progress and then he (Wiser) comes away with the ball, thank the Lord," Warriors head coach Bubba Williams said with a slight grin.
The teams traded a pair of first-quarter TDs.
Cunningham hooked up with Brandon Boyd for a 92-yard strike, and Furlow plunged over from the 1 into the end zone. Warriors' quarterback Mitch Pike, who threw for 228 yards, threw scoring passes of 77 and 12 yards to Malik Richard.
Richard finished with 112 yards on three catches.
Pike's 8-yard run put Eastern Wayne in front 20-14 before an interception led to a South Central touchdown just before halftime. The Falcons extended their advantage to 28-20 in the third quarter, but the Warriors' defense responded with two critical fourth-down stops in red-zone territory and forced two turnovers to keep the game close.
"Everybody had heart on the field (on defense)," said Wiser, moments before he walked toward a small cheering section shouting "Jake, Jake, Jake" as he headed to the bus.
"We had leaders out there telling us to push it and we got it done."
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