WILMINGTON- A second-half push by Wallace-Rose Hill lifted the defending 1AA state champions to a 28-13 road victory over Laney in the 2016 season opener for both teams on Friday night.
The Bucs did a good job containing a run heavy Bulldogs’ offense over the opening 24 minutes of action, but quarterback Aliza Carter took control of the contest after the break and Desmond Newkirk found the end zone twice on a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to seal the win.
“They’re a good football team and that winning tradition Wallace-Rose has built over the years kind of took over,” said Laney Head Coach Aashad Yeoman. “I’m proud of the guys and the way they fought. We’re learning that when we can play together and stay together we can do some great things.”
There were five combined turnovers in the game, the first of which turned into an Imeek Watkins score to put Laney in front 7-0 with 4:07 to play in the first period. After Kymel Bloodworth intercepted a tipped pass, the Bucs took over on the Bulldogs’ 28 yard line. Three plays later, Watkins rushed around the right side on a pitch for the touchdown. The senior running back finished with 16 carries for 50 yards.
However, a fumble recovery by Patrick Farrior helped set up the game tying scoring late in the opening frame as Dennis Nichols answered with a 24 yard run into the end zone to get Wallace-Rose Hill on the board.
A new scheme and penalties plagued Laney’s offensive unit for most of the night, while the Bulldogs used 10 first downs in the second half, converting 3-of-5 third down attempts during that time to gain separation. The Bulldogs took the opening possession of the third quarter 65 yards on eight plays to go up, 14-7. Carter hit Sumarayon Smith on a slant route for a 13 yard touchdown pass.
Trailing 21-7 after Newkirk put the finishing touches on a 10-play, 86 yard drive that took 4:30 off the clock early in the fourth quarter for Wallace-Rose, Watkins took the ensuing kick to the Bulldogs’ 35 yard line and Jason Billingslea stepped up on the final scoring drive for Laney. The junior took a dump pass from Sherod Sidbury 18 yards to move the chains and cut up an eight yard run for the score at the six minute mark.
Wallace-Rose Hill was able recover the onside kick and Newkirk added his second trip passed the goal line on a 16 yard touchdown run.
Defensive back Eli Boone and linebacker Tyler Moore were resilient for Laney’s defense along with inside linebacker Cayman Czesak. They helped stuff the run early as Newkirk was held to just 10 rushing yards in the first half. Boone also blocked a 40-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter, while Karl Lane jumped on a fumble by the Bulldogs. Richard XiCali added one sack for the Bucs and Travon McGhee helped set up the tackle for loss with good pressure on the quarterback.
Wallace-Rose Hill improves to 1-0 this season and travel to East Duplin on Friday, Aug. 26. Laney (0-1) continues a grueling non-conference slate with a trip to Greenville-Rose.
Click here to watch Laney Coach Aashad Yeoman during his post game interview.
Laney: Imeek Watkins, 16 yard run, (PAT, James Hoffman) 4:07
Wallace-Rose: Dennis Nichols, 24 yard run, (PAT, Yahir Cano) :33
Wallace-Rose: Aliza Carter 13 yard pass to Sumarayon Smith, (PAT, Cano) 9:11
Wallace-Rose: Desmond Newkirk, 8 yard run, (PAT, Cano) 7:30
Laney: Jason Billingslea, 8 yard run, 6:10
Wallace-Rose: Desmond Newkirk, 16 yard run, (PAT, Cano) 1:55
— Joe Catenacci (@JoeCats19) August 19, 2016