West Brunswick took the field at M.H. Rourk Stadium Friday night against North Myrtle Beach for their first home game of the season and for the first 16 minutes showed off the explosive offense that scored 62 points a week earlier with improved defensive play that kept the Chiefs out of the end zone and gave the Trojans an early 14-3 lead.
But West’s offense slowed, in part due to senior running back Kevon Daniels getting banged up, while the defense couldn’t match North Myrtle’s physical running game as the Chiefs ran off with the win, 42-26.
“I felt like we had a real good plan. They made a few adjustments but one of the major issues was that we’re just not quite there yet, physically. And that’s my fault for not having us there. But we’ve got to do a better job during the week tackling. A better job practicing. A better job being physical, being the kind of team we want to be. It’s always an interesting balance between wanting to be very physical and wanting to be fresh for the game. So we just got to find a way to balance it,” Trojan head coach Caleb Pardue said.
“We’ve got to make a decision about what type of team we want to be. And I’ve got to go back to the drawing board. We’re going to be more physical at practice. We’re going to have to be and that’s going to put us at risk for some injuries. But I’m tired of seeing missed tackles and tired of seeing guys not be physical enough at the point of attack. That’s all things that can be worked on.”
West received the kickoff and the opening drive almost ended on a three-and-out after only gaining one yard on two quarterback keepers by Javan McCray. McCray threw a 3rd and 9 pass to Avery Clemmons that was incomplete but the Trojans went for it on fourth down. McCray rolled to his left and connected with Clemmons this time, who ran up the sideline for a 24-yard gain.
From there, West relied on the ground game by handing off the Kevon Daniels for an 18 yard run and then sent J.J. Cobb on a sweep that picked up six yards. The Trojans repeated the combo with a Daniels rush up the middle for 13 yards and Cobb taking a pitch and running around the left side for 13 yards to the 5-yard line.
McCray called his own number on two quarterback keepers, reaching the end zone from four yards out on the second attempt. Jojo Hamric kicked the extra point to give West a 7-0 lead.
North Myrtle Beach fair caught the kickoff and started at their 36-yard line intending to test the Trojan run defense. It was a test won by running back DeQuan Durham and quarterback Chance Hall, who moved the ball 39 on four rushing plays. Then Hall passed to Allen McCormick for 21 yards and a 1st and Goal from the three-yard line.
That’s where the West defense stuffed Durham on two running plays. The Chiefs then gave running back Rhys Sturgeon a shot but West forced him back three yards. North Myrtle settled for a field goal to make it 7-3 with 2:30 to play in the first quarter.
On the kickoff, Daniels took the ball at the five-yard line and ran it back to the West 24. The Trojans went to the air for their next score, with Cobb lining up on the left side and cutting across the field where McCray hit him on a slant pass at the 35-yard line. Cobb caught the ball in stride and was gone before the Chiefs could touch him for a 76-yard touchdown.
With Hamric’s extra point kick, West led 14-3 with 2:11 to play in the first.
The Chiefs fair caught the kickoff at their 33-yard line, then Durham and Hall moved the ball to West’s 39-yard line before the end of the quarter.
Facing 3rd and 1 at the 39, Durham was caught in the backfield by Trojan defensive lineman Isaiah Fullwood, but spun out of a tackle and escaped for first down.
The Chiefs then added big back Abraham White to the backfield and moved the ball to the 20-yard line.
Hall took a shot at the end zone but the pass was knocked away and nearly intercepted by Garrett Powell. After a false start penalty, the Chiefs faced 3rd and 18 at the 25 but Hall connected with Brown Reaves to pick up 12 yards, which set up a 26-yard field goal to cut the lead to 14-6 with just under nine minutes to go in the half.
Daniels ran back another kickoff from the three-yard line to the 36, and then he took a second down screen pass to the 45. On 3rd and 1, McCray faked a handoff to Daniels, spun to his left and pitched to Cobb who took off up the sideline to the end zone. But West was flagged and although they got a first down were brought back to their own 49-yard line. False start flags flew on the next two Trojan plays, backing them up further, for a 1st and 20 at the 39. Daniels was handed the ball twice and picked up 15 yards, but on 4th and 5 at the Chief 46, West went for it with a McCray keeper. He was stopped for a loss and North Myrtle took over at midfield.
We’ve just got to get out of our own way a few times. And right now we’re a team where we can’t withstand sputtering on offense. When we do, we just kind of get out of whack. I thought we got a bad call down here. But that’s part of football. It would have put us up 21-6. I felt like that was an incredibly bad break. But that’s part of life,” Pardue said.
The Chiefs made the most of the momentum change, running Durham three times, the third a breakaway 22-yard gain. That set up Hall for a quarterback keeper, 16-yard touchdown run. North Myrtle then tied the game 14-14 with a halfback pass from White to Kaden Gore for the two-point conversion.
With four minutes to play in the half, Cobb took the kickoff at the 15 and ran to the 29-yard line. West faced a 3rd and 9 at the 30 when Daniels burst through the Chiefs line for 22 yards. Daniels picked up another first down running to the Chief 35. An option pitch from McCray to Cobb, a keeper and a short run by Daniels moved West to 1st and 10 at the 20. But McCray was dropped for a loss on a run and West was backed up to the 29 on a false start flag. The Trojans threw two incomplete passes as time ran out in the half.
To start the third quarter, West attempted an onside kick but the ball didn’t roll 10 yards, instead it spun like a top after hitting the ground and moved counter-clockwise in a semi-circle and stopped at the West 40-yard line.
Durham was stopped for no gain by linebacker Jacob Rumsey, but the Chiefs wouldn’t be denied with the advantage of the short field. Hall hit Reaves with a 20-yard pass over the middle and then Durham picked up 10 yards on a pair of runs. ON 1st and Goal at the 10, Hall spun out of the grasp of Rumsey and ran to the two-yard line. Durham finished the drive with the touchdown run to give North Myrtle the lead. With the extra point kick, the Chiefs were up 21-14 with 10 minutes to go in the third.
Disaster struck for the Trojans again as they tried to answer the Chiefs’ challenge but on 2nd and 15 at their own 14-yard line McCray threw a pass to Cobb that bounced off his hands and hung in the air long enough for a North Myrtle defender to make an interception and the Chiefs took over at the West 27-yard line.
The Chiefs scored again on another Durham touchdown run and kicked the extra point to jump out to a 28-14 lead.
The North Myrtle Beach kickoff went out of bounds giving West the ball at the 35-yard line. Runs by Cobb and Daniels took the ball to the Chiefs’ 41 but a personal foul call moved the Trojans back to a 1st and 10 at their own 44.
Daniels ran for four yards but came out of the game with an injury. He would later return to the game.
“He’s okay. I think he just rolled his ankle. I think he’s going to be okay but he was banged up. He’s a warrior, he pushed through it,” Pardue said.
Cobb then took a sweep to the left and up the sideline before he was pushed out at the two-yard line. Dylan Bellamy finished the drive for West with a touchdown run but the extra point attempt was blocked, leaving the Trojans trailing 28-20.
A personal foul penalty on the kickoff backed up North Myrtle to the 15-yard line, but Durham broke free for a 33-yard gain to the 48. Another Durham run crossed midfield but a second personal foul call moved the Chiefs back to their 40-yard line.
West couldn’t stop the Chiefs from picking up first downs despite the penalties. They ran the ball with White and Hall, who also threw a touchdown pass to tight end Bryson Hardee. With the point after, the Chiefs’ lead was 35-20.
With two minutes to play in the third, the Trojans showed no signs of quitting as Cobb ran the kickoff to the 32-yard line.
Then McCray took charge with a pair of quarterback keepers, moving to the 39-yard line on first down and then tearing through the middle of the line and running 61 yards for a touchdown. West went for two but McCray was stopped short on the attempt to keep the score at 35-26.
After fair catching the kickoff at their 42, North Myrtle ran out the clock on the third quarter by running the ball with Durham and Hall.
The fourth quarter started with more runs by Durham to move to West’s 34. A Hall pass to Reaves went for 16 years to the 18-yard line. Then facing a 3rd and 5, West jumped offside to give the Chiefs a first down and Hall pitched to White for North Myrtle’s last touchdown run. With the extra point they went up 42-26.
A personal foul call against West on the touchdown moved the kickoff to midfield but gave the Trojans the ball at the 20-yard line after a touchback.
McCray ran for 14 yards on another keeper and then kept the drive going on 3rd and 15 by passing to Cylil Lee, who picked up the first down after he was hit out of bounds to move West to 1st and 10 at the Chief 44.
Daniels was back in the lineup and traded run plays with McCray to move to the 15-yard line. Then Cobb took another sweep to the left but fumbled after a hit and North Myrtle took over at the 13.
Looking to run the clock, the Chiefs ran the ball and punted for the only time during the game.
With 1:30 to play and the ball back at their own 34-yard line, West turned to the passing game try to move the ball but ended the last drive on an interception at the Chiefs 23-yard line.
The Trojans are on a bye week and will return to play at M.H. Rourk Stadium on Friday, Sept. 16 when they host Hoggard for the start of Mideastern Conference play.
“For us right now, it doesn’t matter who we play, we’ve got to play fundamentally,” Pardue said.
“We’re two deep and we’re going to keep rotating guys in. hopefully, this next week gives our young guys some time to step up.
“I think we’ve got to really hone in on growing up. I told them at the beginning of the year, men beat boys in games and right now we’re being boys. We’re letting our emotions get the best of us.”
“I told the kids, the football season is broken up into three parts — non-conference, conference and then playoffs. Obviously, the non-conference was not how we wanted it to go. But we’ve still got a lot of football and our best football is in front of us. We knew we were going to play a tough non-conference schedule. And I don’t think that’s lost on anybody.”
Brian Slattery is the sports editor for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 910-239-7433 or email@example.com.