The Eastern Wayne Warriors defeated the Hobbton Wildcats 18-13 Friday night in a game where both teams made costly mistakes.
Friday night’s game started off with four turnovers on downs in a row. The first turnover on downs came from Hobbton, which gave the ball to Eastern Wayne only for the Warriors to give the ball right back to them.
After both teams failed to score twice, Hobbton got the ball back only to fumble in what an unsuccessful first quarter for both offenses.
When Eastern Wayne took over on first down after the Hobbton turnover, Warriors head coach Leander Oates decided to make a change at quarterback by putting in usual starter Trevor Warren in place of C.J. Battle who started the game for the Warriors.
The change paid off, and on Warren’s first play of the game he threw a 27-yard completion to Battle, who moved from quarterback to receiver. Just a few plays later, Warren connected again with Battle, this time for a 23-yard touchdown to give Eastern Wayne a 6-0 lead with no time left in the first quarter.
Oates said the reason for starting Battle instead of Warren was due to an injury that Warren picked up in the Warriors’ previous game against Greene Central, on Sept. 10.
After failing to score, Oates said he felt he needed to put Warren in, even if he wasn’t feeling 100% healthy.
“Trevor is always our (quarterback one),” Oates said. “We were just trying to monitor a situation where we think that would help us moving forward.
“Going into a bye week will help us recover from a lot of the (injuries) that we were going through. When (Warren) came in (the game) that kind of shifted things a little bit, and we actually scored after that.”
After stopping Hobbton, Eastern Wayne scored again in the second quarter to take a 12-0 lead. This time, the score came not through the air but on the ground from Warren, who took it in himself on a 2-yard rushing touchdown.
The Wildcats didn’t allow the Warriors to keep their two-touchdown lead for long, as they quickly answered back on the next possession with a 55-yard receiving touchdown from Alzyion Smith to make the score 12-7 with 3:21 remaining in the second quarter.
When the Warriors received the ball again, instead of running the ball, which would use up time on the clock, they decided to remain aggressive and continue to pass the ball.
The decision to pass the ball didn’t work out, with Warren throwing an interception that the Wildcats defender returned all the way for a touchdown.
The pick-six gave Hobbton a 13-12 lead and all of the momentum heading into halftime.
Eastern Wayne didn’t let the ending of the first half affect them, and the Warriors scored first in the second half with 51-yard touchdown run from Dennislyn Swinson.
The long touchdown run from Swinson gave the Warriors an 18-13 lead.
After the touchdown by Eastern Wayne early in the second half, neither team was able to score again in the game.
The Wildcats came the closest to scoring when they got down to the Eastern Wayne 4-yard line, but the Eastern Wayne defense was able to stop them on fourth down with a sack.
The strong defense for the Warriors held Hobbton scoreless in the second half, and Eastern Wayne held on for a 18-13 victory.
Oates said that the biggest reason for the Warriors’ win against the Wildcats was his defensive players’ strong performance.
“I commend my defense,” Oates said. “We gave up the one touchdown and, unfortunately, we gave up one on offense.
“They did a heck of a job, though, stopping some of their passing. We gave up some yardage but preventing them from lighting up that scoreboard, I think that’s a big accomplishment for our guys.”
With the win, the Warriors improve to 4-1, while the Wildcats fall to 2-2 with the loss.
Eastern Wayne will play Northwood in Pittsboro on Friday at 6:30 p.m.