After a 72-hour delay and venue change because of soaking rains along the coast, Laney and Topsail finally got on the field Monday night as the Bucs used a strong effort behind running back Imeek Watkins to pitch a 31-0 shutout at Legion Stadium.
The junior running back finished with 133 yards on 23 carries, with three receptions for 31 yards and two touchdowns to lead a Laney offense that controlled possession throughout most of the second half.
“I’m just proud of the effort as a whole,” said Laney Coach Aashad Yeoman. “We kept our focus and executed especially after the melee.”
With Laney in front by 10 early in the third quarter, there was a lengthy delay on the field after a skirmish broke out near midfield, which led to the ejection of three players.
“Dealing with what we had to deal with and then coming back and just playing football, it was good to get the victory,” Yeoman added. “The referees did what they could and it came down to some guys doing some things that they weren’t supposed to after the play.”
After both teams traded punts on their opening possessions of the contest, Topsail was stuffed on fourth and inches near midfield when Saquad Yeoman stopped the short yardage run for the turnover on downs. The Bucs took over with good field position and quickly moved down field thanks to a 20-yard run by Watkins. A key third down conversion later in the drive on third and nine set up a 29-yard field goal by Hayden Watkins.
The Pirates had a chance to tie the game after Grant McCoy brought the ensuing kickoff to the Laney 44-yard line, but a 27-yard field goal attempt went wide right to preserve the Bucs’ 3-0 edge at the break.
After two kicks went out of bounds to start the second half, Sharod Sidbury took a 50-yard return to the Topsail 30-yard line and Watkins punched it in five plays later from four yards out to give Laney a 10-0 lead.
A three-and-out by the Pirates on the following possession set the stage for an 11-play, 80-yard drive, capped with a one-yard touchdown run by quarterback Trevon Greene, who completed 4-of-6 pass attempts, rushed for 44 yards and one score. The game was delayed for about 20 minutes because of the brawl, but after everything was sorted out, the Bucs grabbed a 17-0 advantage with 3:25 to play in the third quarter.
Laney’s defense did a good job containing the Topsail run game and held the Pirates to just 160 yards to total offense, while Karl Lane had an interception to go along with a fumble recovery by Ryan Molnar. Molnar also had a quarterback pressure in the game and Cayman Czesak added one sack.
“Topsail likes to pound the rock and I thought we did a great job executing our defense,” said Yeoman. “We didn’t try to do too much, but it was great to play back in Wilmington after the last couple road games even though we couldn’t play this one at our place.”
Originally scheduled to be played at Laney, the game was moved across town to Legion Stadium because of wet field conditions at Holliday Stadium.
Watkins scored his second touchdown of the game after a Pirates’ fumble midway through the final frame and Jamius Beckett closed the scoring late in the fourth quarter on a 44-yard run.
D.J. Montano made up a majority of the Topsail offense, with 88 yards rushing on 22 carries.
The Pirates fell to 0-1 in conference and 3-3 overall. Laney moved to 1-0 in league play and 2-4 on the year. Both teams have a short week of practice heading into games on Friday, October 2.
Laney-Hayden Watkins, 30-yard field goal, 8:42
Laney- Imeek Watkins, 4-yard run, (PAT, Watkins) 9:50
Laney- Trevon Greene, 1-yard run, (PAT, Watkins) 3:25
Laney- Imeek Watkins, 10-yard run, (PAT, Watkins) 4:59
Laney- Jamius Beckett, 44-yard run, (PAT, Watkins) :24