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PINETOPS — Senior running backs Darntrell Council and Jordan Clayton combined for seven touchdowns for the Eastern Plains Conference champion SouthWest Edgecombe High varsity football team that grounded Washington 50-21 in the opening round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2-AA playoffs on a football-cold Friday night in SouthWest’s stadium.
Council, who darted for 134 yards on nine rushes, found the Pam Pack end zone on trots of 61, 4, 2 and 7 yards and added a two-point conversion run. Clayton ran 2 and 10 yards for TDs and hauled in a 21-yard scoring pass from senior quarterback Jayden Lewis.
Seeded No. 2 among the 16 East Region qualifiers, the Cougars posted their ninth win against two losses and advanced into the second round for a home date against Croatan next Friday. Croatan ousted Currituck in another opening-round test Friday night.
Washington, the No. 15 seed and representing the Eastern Carolina Conference, exited at 4-7.
SouthWest, decimating the Washington defense for 350 rushing yards, never trailed, forging 14-0 and 28-7 leads. But Washington found success through the air and, with TDs its final first-half and opening second-half possession, cut the deficit to 28-21.
However, the Cougars crippled Washington 18 seconds after the Pam Pack’s third TD.
Senior Jareil Collins sped 60 yards to set up Council’s 2-yard TD plunge. SouthWest led 34-21 with five minutes, 10 seconds left in the third quarter.
“That broke our backs,” admitted Pam Pack head coach Jon Blank. “The kids tried to respond, but you could tell the life had been taken out of them.”
Noted SouthWest head coach Jonathan Cobb: “We asked them at halftime how long was it going to take them to put away Washington. Was it going to be toward the end of the third quarter or was Washington going to play with us all the way? You have to credit the kids for finally doing that. We, indeed, overcame their momentum.”
“We knew we had to come in and play hard,” Council said. “We couldn’t take for them for granted. We had to read our keys, do our part, trust each other and stay focused.”
A SouthWest defense anchored by senior Jelan Smith, junior Kedar Darden and Council, shut down the Pam Pack’s aerial attack the final quarter and the Cougars, ousted in the second round last year, pulled away on TD jaunts of 7 yards from Council and 10 yards from Clayton. Council and sophomore Tayshuan Pittman added two-point conversions.
The Cougars rolled up 400 yards total offense.
Washington, like SouthWest, utilized a bevy of running backs and its offense clicked in the second and third quarters behind the passing of junior quarterback Antwone Godley, who connected on 10 of 15 tosses for 143 yards and a TD.
Godley was finally intercepted by SouthWest senior Larry Taylor in the final quarter but, by then, Washington was reeling from the Cougars’ quick strike for a 34-21 margin and an injury that sidelined senior running back Kaci Foreman.
“By being fairly familiar with SouthWest by (formerly) being in the same conference, we kind of knew what to expect,” Blank reasoned. “We did find some things in the passing game. Then, No. 1 (Foreman) went down and they also made some adjustments that took away some of our passing. What it came down to was that they out-physicaled us.”
The Cougars fumbled away the football deep in Washington territory their first possession, but zipped to a 14-0 cushion on Council’s 61-yard jaunt and his 4-yard run. Collins contributed a two-point conversion.
Washington mixed the run and pass to drive 60 yards and score on the final play of the first quarter on Foreman’s 11-yard scamper on an option play. Freshman Zerniak Ridge kicked the first of three extra points.
SouthWest, which did not punt, answered with two more TDs on Clayton’s 2-yard burst and Lewis’ 21-yard strike to Clayton. Lewis added the two-point conversion.
The Pam Pack, however, proceeded to somewhat stun SouthWest with Godley’s passes to senior Uriah Lawrence, Foreman and senior Montrice Selby. Godley pitched a 7-yard TD pass to Lawrence and sneaked 2 yards for the final Washington TD.
The Pam Pack successfully converted on fourth down on four occasions but was plagued by 13 penalties for 138 yards.
“We ran the ball very well,” Cobb reviewed, “but we didn’t pass the ball well. I would prefer to do both well. The defense got better as the game stretched.
“We are pleased to be where we are and to be able to play at home next week. But we have work to do, things to learn and things to fix.”