LELAND – The North Brunswick Scorpions football team
weathered a two-hour lightning delay and a number of first-week errors to hold on against a gritty Whiteville Wolfpack team for a 21-20 home opener on Friday.
Except for the final minutes of the second quarter, the game was a slug fest between two teams that were hard hitting on defense and found traction on the ground.
The Wolfpack scored first in a drive that featured many shorts runs and two fourth-down conversions. The Wolfpack moved down the field mostly on the legs of Keshawn Bellamy, with first down runs by Jamario Norton and Quarterback Phillip Powell before Bradley Pridgen scored the first touchdown of the game with 4:43 left in the first.
The Scorpions took a different approach for their first points, specifically, the long road. After two short runs, Quarterback Jathan Deberry handed the ball off to fellow senior Jayhlen Washington who broke containment and outraced the Wolfpack defense to the end zone from 60 yards out.
The Wolfpack responded with another clock-eating drive, marching down the field for almost six minutes and another score. After that, things got sloppy for both teams. Missed passes and fumbles became the story of a second quarter that ended with Whiteville on top 14-7 just as the lightning arrived. A two-hour delay followed,
Returning to the field after 10 p.m., it did not take long for a charged up Scorpion team to find the end zone on another long touchdown run, this time by JC Smith, who had a number of important carries in the game.
Two plays later, the Scorpions had the ball again after a highlight reel fumble – the ball popped out of the runners hands and never touched the ground. Three plays and a few penalties later, Smith found the end zone once again. A two-point conversion by Washington capped the scoring drive, making the score 21-14.
It appeared momentum was heading the way of the Scorpions, but the Wolfpack fought back, hitting a 29-yard pass on a third and 30 and a 40-yard run to put them within striking distance. A few short runs later, the score was 21-20, but a costly penalty on the conversion attempt pushed them 10 yards back and it ultimately failed, leaving them with the one-point deficit that ultimately cost them the game. But, first, they made it interesting.
With just 3:23 left, the Wolfpack came up with a fumble and once again began marching down the field. For a second, it looked like the Scorpions had taken the ball away when the D swarmed a runner, but the refs ruled the player down and the Pack made it all the way down to the 23-yard line. That’s when the Scorpion defensive back field came up big, breaking up two deep passes, including Shaquan Graham’s knockdown of a potential first down near the goal line.
One kneel down later and the Scorpions had secured their first win of the season.
“I’m proud of the guys,” Coach Larry Brock said. “They worked hard hard. They earned it. It had to be tough to come back out here after two hours and play the way they did. They deserve it.
“My hat’s off to Coach (Luke) Little,” Brock said. “They have a good team there. They are going to win a lot of games.”
With school starting next week, Brock said the win is a good way to start the year.
“It’s always good to start the year with a win,” he said. “I’m proud of my team. They had a close, hard-fought game, but our kids did not lay down and they never quit.”
Video: Three Plays that Secured the New Brunswick Scorpions’ opening-day win