West Brunswick run game, defense stuns New Hanover

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SHALLOTTE — Heading into Friday’s key conference game, the West Brunswick football team knew it had the pieces to compete against some of the area’s best. Forty-eight minutes later, a game-plan executed to near perfection guided the Trojans as the home team from Shallotte stunned New Hanover 26-14 to grab first place in the division.

A heavy dose of Bubba McCray and an enormous effort by the West Brunswick defense-forcing four turnovers-pushed the Trojans win streak to six straight, improving to 4-0 in league play and 8-1 overall.

An auspicious start saw the Trojans fumble on the first possession only to have New Hanover give it back to West Brunswick on a loose ball during the same play. That set the tone for what was going to be a big night for the green and white.

Following the Wildcats second turnover on offense after a fumble recovery by Jacary Bethel, sophomore wide out Dylan Jeffries made a highlight reel grab on a 37-yard pass from Owen McDowell to set up the Trojans offense inside the red zone. McCray put West Brunswick on the board with the first of three touchdowns in the game on an 11-yard score to take a 6-0 lead.

The Trojans won the battle up front on both sides of the ball and that became evident during the second half. However, a New Hanover interception early in the third quarter gave the Wildcats life on the West Brunswick 26 yard line. A few plays later Javeon Hall punched it in from one-yard out and Westley Gaines hit the extra point to give the visitors a 7-6 advantage.

But, the positive energy didn’t last long as the Trojans marched down field on the ensuing possession thanks to a good push by the offensive line and McCray, who rushed 40 times in the game for over 180 yards. The nine-play, 67 yard drive saw McCray touch the ball eight times before Maliek King capped the momentum swing with a 20-yard touchdown run at the 1:48 mark.

West Brunswick did a tremendous job keeping playmaker Wiz Vaughn in check and limited the air attack with a fierce pass rush led by Tim Sellers, Taye Vereen and Tim Gore. Senior defensive back Jimmy Cochran stepped up with seconds remaining in the third quarter and picked off a pass deep inside New Hanover territory, which gave the Trojans great field position. McCray added his second score on a goal line play with 00:17 seconds remaining.

The final 12 minutes of the game was probably the most impressive part of the night. With a 20-7 cushion, Sellers got after Wildcats’ quarterback Blake Walston and used a sack, forced fumble and recovery by Vereen to seize momentum for good.

McCray finished the scoring in the fourth quarter when the senior running back broke a 36-yard run for the touchdown. King was used in several short yardage situations to move the chains throughout the night, while Tariq Thomas had one carry for 18 yards. West Brunswick had 304 yards of total offense, including 234 yards on the ground.

The Trojans used a good change up early in the ball game by going to the air to put New Hanover back on their heels. Brandon Wehrly got things going with a 19-yard catch for his only reception of the night, which set up the ground attack.

New Hanover mustered just 182 yards of total offense. The Wildcats had three big plays they would have liked to get back in the first half. The opening fumble that gave West Brunswick the ball back after the Trojans coughed it up on fourth down. A punt return by Freddie Taylor for a touchdown was called back because of holding. And, when New Hanover was finally able to get moving offensively, West Brunswick forced a fumble on the 25 yard line, which was picked up Jelen Jones-Bey.

Hall and Keegan Santos combined for 80 yards rushing for New Hanover, but penalties and turnovers proved too big a hurdle  for the Wildcats. Vaughn was held to 21 yards of total offense. Walston did connect with Taylor on a 35 yard touchdown pass late in the game, but it was too little for New Hanover, which fell to 2-1 in conference and to 4-4 overall.

The win puts West Brunswick in the driver’s seat with a one game lead in the division. The road to a conference championship doesn’t get any easier for the Trojans (4-0, 8-1) as they head to Wilmington on Friday, Oct. 21, for a date with Hoggard (2-1, 3-5).

New Hanover (2-1, 4-4) returns to Legion Stadium for a home game against Ashley (1-3, 3-4).

NHHS  0-0-7-7=14

West    0-6-14-6=26

Scoring Summary

Second Quarter

West Brunswick- Bubba McCray, 11 yard run; 7:03

Third Quarter

New Hanover- Javeon Hall, 1 yard run, (PAT, Westley Gaines) 4:06

West Brunswick- Maliek King, 20 yard run, 1:48

West Brunswick-Bubba McCray, 1 yard run, (2-point conversion, McDowell run) :17

Fourth Quarter

West Brunswick- Bubba McCray, 36 yard run; 6:45