In a game that started more than one and a half hours after the scheduled kickoff because of lightning, Ashley and White Oak opened week one of the regular season under steady rain in Monkey Junction late Friday night.
While the Vikings struggled to move the ball consistently, big plays by Bobby Smith, Morton Roop and Tyrique Meadows proved to be the difference as White Oak overcame a one-point second half deficit to grab a 25-20 win over the Screaming Eagles.
With the clock winding down late in the fourth quarter, Ashley had one last chance to find the end zone, but a sack and forced fumble on the final offensive play sealed the Screaming Eagles’ fate in a hard fought battled that ended just before midnight.
“We didn’t do our job defensively tonight and definitely disappointed in that,” said Ashley first-year coach Jeff Turner. “Both teams had a lot of guys playing both ways and between the delay, the kids playing on each side of the ball, kids were cramping up. It got more humid as the night went on, but that’s no excuse and it’s high school football. We’ve got to be better.”
Following the 100-minute delay, each team traded touchdowns to open the ballgame thanks to a 62-yard run by Roop on a broken play as the Vikings’ quarterback dropped back to pass on a third down play and scrambled through the pocket and eventually into the end zone for the 7-0 lead. Ashley answered with an eight-play, 58-yard drive, capped off on a 16-yard run by Bradley Plyler, who finished the night with 196 yards on 22 carries and three touchdowns.
A two-point conversion on a quarterback draw by Caleb Parker gave the Screaming Eagles a one-point edge, but poor tackling later in the opening period led to a big run by Junior Ellis on 3rd and 8 for his longest rush of the game to set up a 43-yard score by Meadows late in the first quarter.
The Vikings took a 19-8 advantage with 5:14 left in the first half on Smith’s 37-yard run after Ashley punted the ball inside the 10-yard line. White Oak was stuffed on the opening play of the drive, but used a 50-yard sprint by Junior Ellis to set the stage for the double digit lead. The Screaming Eagles moved the chains on three consecutive plays before Julian Brown stuffed the run to give the Ashley offense a tough down and distance to convert.
An 8-yard carry by Plyler on the opening possession of the second half put the home side within striking distance and Ashley eventually took the lead 19-18 on Plyler’s third touchdown of the game with 1:46 to go in the third quarter.
“I was happy with how the offense kept pushing,” said Turner. “Bradley’s a tough kid. He’s only going into his junior year and runs very hard. I thought he got us going offensively, but we just did not do our job on the other side of the ball.”
White Oak wasted no time in regaining the advantage as Smith made his second trip to the end zone just three plays after the Ashley score to give the Vikings breathing room to capture the hard-fought road victory.
Qadhafi Turner had an interception and fumble recovery for the Screaming Eagles, who fell to 0-1 on the year. Russell Corbett also had a big day up front with six tackles and two tackles for loss. Ashley begins a two-game road trip on Friday, Aug. 28 at Swansboro.
White Oak 13-6-6-0=25
White Oak- Morton Roop, 62-yard run, (PAT, Roop) 10:29
Ashley- Bradley Plyler, 16-yard, (Parker 2-point) 6:54
White Oak- Tyrique Meadows, 43-yard, 4:12
White Oak- Bobby Smith, 37-yard, 5:14
Ashley- Bradley Plyler, 8-yard run, 8:38
Ashley- Bradley Plyler, 29-ard run, 1:46
White Oak- Bobby Smith, 60-yard, :33