The defending 3A East Regional Champion Havelock Rams rolled into Legion Stadium on Friday night and controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball in a 42-0 shutout over New Hanover.
Tony Sharpe finished with 19 carries for 244 yards and two touchdowns, while Corey Cooper finished with over 100 yards rushing at quarterback and three scores as the Rams jumped out to a 21-point lead at halftime before a half-hour lightning delay forced both teams off the field at the start of the third quarter.
“Our team is built on a strong offensive and defensive line and that’s something we’ve stressed all summer,” said Havelock Coach Job Bob Bryant. “We’ve worked hard in the weight room to get stronger and to be able pound the ball on offense and stop the run on defense.”
New Hanover faced an uphill battle right from the opening kickoff when a botched return led to a Wildcats turnover, giving the Rams a short field to work with on their first possession. Havelock was eventually stuffed inside the red zone, but scored three touchdowns in the first half for the commanding lead. Cooper hit Taquan Green on a receiver screen with eight minutes to go in the opening period and the senior wide out took it 16 yards for the score to give the Rams an early 7-0 advantage.
The Wildcats were forced to punt on back-to-back drives to open the game and didn’t pick up a first down until Burke Estes hit Garrett Walston for an 11-yard strike late in the first quarter. Walston ended the night with six catches for 63 yards.
Trey Owens had two interceptions for Havelock, one of which resulted in seven points as Sharpe broke a 65-yard run for his first score of the night on the opening play of the second quarter to grab a 14-0 lead.
Trailing 14-0, Keaun Wallace picked off a Cooper pass to give New Hanover life, but a 10-play drive stalled for the Wildcats on a pair of incomplete passes to set up a 32-yard touchdown pass from Cooper to Owens on the final play of the first half.
“Our assistant coaches do a great job putting a game plan together week in and week out and it was a total team effort all the way around,” Bryant said. “We didn’t really capitalize on the fumble right out of the gate and it could have been 35-0 at halftime. We had some costly penalties on two drives in the red zone, but against a good team like New Hanover you can’t leave points on the board.”
After the weather delay, the Rams took the opening possession of the third quarter 65 yards on nine plays, capped off on a two-yard touchdown by Sharpe to put the game out of reach. Havelock also scored on its final two possessions of the game, including a 13 yard run by Cooper and three-yard score by Montrece Gatling to force a running clock in the final stages of the last frame.
New Hanover was able to move the chains to finish with 14 first downs in the game, but turnovers and an aggressive Rams defense plagued the Wildcats all night.
Estes completed 27-of-39 passes for 197 yards, with two interceptions for, while Wiz Vaughn recorded 85 all-purpose yards on two rushes and six catches for New Hanover. Tre Age also finished with 12 rushes for 33 yards and eight receptions, totaling 39 yards.
New Hanover fell to 2-1 in non-conference play and get the week off to prepare for Scotland County. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Legion Stadium on September 18. Havelock moved to 3-0 overall.
Havelock- Corey Cooper 16-yard pass to Taquan Green, (PAT, John Mills) 8:03
Havelock- Tony Sharpe, 65-yard run, (PAT, Mills) 11:45
Havelock- Corey Cooper 32-yard pass to Trey Owens, (PAT, Mills) :00
Havelock- Tony Sharpe, 3-yard run, (PAT, Mills) 8:19
Havelock- Corey Cooper, 13-yard run, (PAT, Mills) :00
Havelock- Montrece Gatling, 3-yard run, (PAT, Mills) 5:20