The Daily Southerner
John H. Walker
LEGGETT — Like a vintage V-8, North Edgecombe’s Warriors (5-5) hit on all cylinders here Friday night, rolling to a 30-12 first round North Carolina High School Athletic Association rout of Weldon’s Chargers (4-7).
And now, the Warriors stay at home for the second round after Princeton (3-8) pulled off a 28-21 upset over North Duplin (7-4) on the road.
“I’m happy with the way we played,” North Head Coach Keith Parisher said after the win. “I knew we were capable of playing this way.”
Despite playing an untested Rontarius Graham at quarterback after starter Clifton Dickens was declared ineligible for the game after violating a school district policy regarding fighting.
But with Graham, listed as a tight end and defensive end on the roster, at the controls, the Warriors never missed a beat — jumping to a 22-0 halftime lead.
“He (Graham) knew what he was doing,” Parisher said. “He’s a smart kid and knows he plays … he just needed a couple of snaps (at the star of the game).”
Things started slowly for both teams, with Weldon forced into a pair of three-and-outs and North Edgecombe dealt a three-and-out extended by an illegal procedure on fourth down while in punt formation. But it was on North’s second possession, which began at the Warriors’ 30, that the black and orange began to take control of the game.
With Antoine Pittman, Travonte Collins, Quantravis Harris, Jarius Collins and Jacoby Bullock sharing the load, the Warriors marched 70 yards in nine plays — including and fourth-and-one conversion — to take an 8-0 lead when Travonte Collins darted untouched around left end from the six with 1:38 left in the first quarter. Jarius Collins, who had a 38-yard gain on a sweep to the right during the drive, added the two-point conversion.
Weldon took the ensuing kickoff on the 34 and got a return out to the 49 to start its third possession of the first quarter.
And despite a pair of three-and-outs on the first two possessions, this drive was even more frustrating for the Chargers.
Travon Shearin, who 117 of Weldon’s 157 total offensive yards, lost a yard on first down when Trevonnis Archer, Demetrious Milbourne and Daniel Adcock broke through his blocking on a run to the right.
Shearin gained three on second down but, on third-and-eight, Archer, Milbourne and Trequez Johnson put heavy pressure on quarterback Malik Arrington, forcing him to throw the ball away — and get flagged for intentional grounding as a result.
Weldon punted the ball away on the final play of the first quarter and North started the second from the Weldon 46.
Collins got one off right tackle on first down before Pittman picked up fout yards, again off right tackle, on second down. Mixing it up, Travonte Collins got four off left guard to set up a fourth-and-one from the 37. Pittman crashed off right tackle for six and the first down to keep the drive alive.
The Warriors continued to chew up yardage with Harris chipping in gains of eight and nine yards to move the ball to the Weldon 11, where they faced a second and one.
North used some misdirection on the play, sending the fullback off right guard on a fake trap while Travonte Collins took the ball around left end — untouched and apparently unseen by the Chargers. Harris added the two-point conversion to make the score 16-0 with 8:26 left in the half.
On its next possession it looked as if Weldon had figured out North’s defensive scheme, as the Chargers began working the right sidelines — Shearin picking up 14 and 19 yards, respectively, on the first two plays.
The Chargers marched down the field, earning a first-and-goal on the eight. Shearin got five on first down, then lost one on a defensive gang tackle by Milbourne, Travon Dancy and Travonte Collins. On third down, Weldon was flagged for illegal procedure before Shearin got four to set up a fourth and goal from the four.
With Arrington dropping to pass, Johnson got the hit, causing the ball to limp into the air — where Trashaun Whitaker was able to pull it down for the interception on the 13.
North lost two on first down before Travonte Collins took the ball off right guard, cut past one linebacker and sidestepped a defensive back en route to an 89-yard scoring run.
The conversion run failed and North led 22-0 with 3:32 left in the half.
Neither team was able to accomplish much in the third quarter, although Weldon did start what would be its only scoring drive of the game, with 2:25 left in the period.
But the drive almost never got started, as, on the second play, Arrington looked to pass into the right flat, but fumbled when he was hit. Whitaker got his hands on the ball, but Weldon maintained possession.
The Chargers then went to an aerial attack, throwing three straight passes and converting one fourth down. The big play of the drive was a 28-yard gainer by Shearin on third-and-10, moving the ball to the four as the quarter ended. It took Shearin two tries to get into the end zone, but score he did with 11:52 left in the game. The two-point conversion failed.
After North was unable to respond, the Chargers got the ball back on their 36 and looked for another score.
That wouldn’t be the case, though, as Arrington threw a low pass into the right flat —straight into the arks of a lunging Whitaker, who hauled the ball it and cradled it as he rolled over in front of the side judge for his second interception of the game.
North capitalized on the turnover, needing just five plays for Pittman to score on a trap from the 13. Bullock’s conversion run made the score 30-6 with 3:24 left in the game.
Parrisher began getting his younger players some game time and, on the third possession against what was essentially the JV defense, Shearin scored on an 11-yard run. That capped the scoring at 30-12 with 35.1 seconds left in the game,
North’s defense did a good job of shutting Weldon down offensively, allowing 115 yards on 37 rushes and another 42 yards of three completions out of 13 attempts with two interceptions. Shearin had 115 yards on 26 carriees for the Chargers.
“The defense did a really good job,” Parisher said. “I was really pleased with the way they played. ”
But Parrisher had to be pleased with the offense, which took control of the game early. The Warriors rushed for 275 yards on 46 carries and added six more through the air, as Graham was one-for-one. Four players, led by Travonte Collins’ 129 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries, rushed for 40 or more yards. Harris had 54 yards on 10 carries, Pittman had 41 yards and one score on 12 carries and Jarius Collins had 42 yards on six carries.