Impressive first half propels Laney football to road win at West Brunswick

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SHALLOTTE — The Laney High School football team put West Brunswick on their heels early in the game Friday night as the Bucs used an impressive first half performance en route to a 34-14 victory in Shallotte.

Senior running back Imeek Watkins rushed for over 100 yards and three touchdowns, while sophomore Jason Billingslea accounted for two trips to the end zone, including a 16 yard catch and run passed the goal line to give the Laney a 27-0 advantage with 1:57 to play in the second quarter.

The Bucs used an up tempo pace to get on the board early after Watkins took the opening kickoff to midfield.  Billinglsea helped put the visitors on the board with a 28-yard sweep around the left edge to get deep into Trojans territory before getting a lead block through the right side for a two-yard touchdown just two minutes into the first period.

Penalties hurt West Brunswick throughout the night and hampered the first two drives. The Laney defense also controlled the line of scrimmage for a majority of the game to stifle the Trojans ground game. Bubba McCray was held to just two big runs, which came in the second half, while the Bucs were able to pick up several key third down conversions to stay ahead of the chains.

With Laney in front 7-0 early in the second quarter, a fake punt for 19 yards on 4th and long by Cayman Czesak went around the right edge for the first down.  Sherod Sidbury gained 13 yards on a quarterback keeper later in the drive on third down to move the sticks and the sophomore hit Billingslea on a 17-yard pass on third-and-eight to set up a 13-yard touchdown by Watkins.

The Bucs added to their cushion midway through the second frame after a West Brunswick punt. Watkins capped the drive that began on Laney’s own 38-yard line with a six yard score. Sophomore Daquan Pridgen provided the Bucs with several hard nose runs during the possession to keep the Trojans from keying on one player.

West Brunswick was finally able to take advantage of good field position with under two minutes to play in the half and got on the board to make it a three-score game at the break. The green and white looked to get back in the ball game after receiving the kick to start the second half as King broke a tackle on the opening play of the third quarter for a 31-yard run. McCray added a 41-yard sprint to get down to the one yard line and the senior plunged into the end zone one play later to close the deficit.

The Trojans defense was able to force a Laney three and out on the ensuing possession, but back-to-back holding penalties ended with a West Brunswick punt as the home team could never get enough momentum going to make a comeback.

Billingslea finished with 98 total yards of offense on three receptions and five rushes. The Bucs’ defense had two takeaways, including an interception by Trevon Greene and fumble recovery by Timothy Mills.

Laney improved to 3-2 in the division and 6-4 overall moving into the regular season finale at home against Ashley on Friday, Nov. 4.

Meanwhile, West Brunswick dropped back-to-back games for the first time all season, falling to 4-2 in league play and 8-3 on the year. The Trojans head into an open week and won’t return to the field until the 3A playoffs on Friday, Nov. 18. Postseason play was originally scheduled to get underway on Nov. 11, but Hurricane Matthew pushed the start of the playoffs back one week so teams affected by the storm could finish the regular season schedule.

Box score

Laney  7-20-0-7=34

West   0-7-7-0=14

 

Scoring summary

 First Quarter

Laney- Jason Billingslea, 2 yard run, (PAT, James Hoffman) 9:59

 Second Quarter

Laney- Imeek Watkins, 13 yard run, (PAT) 10:51

Laney- Imeek Watkins, 7 yard run, (PAT)

Laney- Sherod Sidbury, 16 yard pass to Jason Billingslea, (PAT, no good) 1:57

West Brunswick- Maliek King, 1 yard run, (PAT, Angel Morales) 5.4

 Third Quarter

West Brunswick- Bubba McCray, 1 yard run, (PAT, Morales) 10:30

 Fourth Quarter

Laney- Imeek Watkins, 3 yard run, PAT 2:07