By VAN HOLLAND
Tarboro head coach Jeff Craddock yelled most of the first half at his defense, because they couldn't stop the South Creek Panthers passing attack. Tarboro was able to hold the Panthers to just one score despite giving up 139 passing yards in the half. So Craddock made one adjustment at halftime that changed the complexion of the game.
"I made an attitude adjustment," Craddock said. "It had nothing to do with X's and O's or blocking schemes. We just weren't playing with our usual intensity, because we were just going through the motions and sleep walking through the first half."
The adjustment worked, because Tarboro came out in the second half and held the Panthers to just 11 passing yards and the yards they did gain were on the ground. Tarboro won their first Two Rivers Conference game 51-8.
Tarboro (5-2, 1-0) had trouble defending the Panthers spread offense. Players weren't reading their keys and picking up receivers like they were suppose too. Brandon Battle was 18 for 30 passing in the first half and his receivers dropped two balls that were possible touchdowns. His only TD pass came in the first half when he connected with Quez Clark for 38 yards with 2:45 left before halftime to cut the Vikings lead to 24-8. The second half was a different story, because Battle only had one pass completion for 11 yards.
"I think we came out and played much better in the second half, because we cut down their seam passes and the bubbles," Craddock said. "We played much better in the second half and I was very pleased with the way we turned it around in our conference opener."
On the offensive side Tarboro had to insert a backup JV quarterback, Dawson Harris, with two minutes left in the first quarter when Najee Brown was tackled on the Vikings sideline after a 13-yard gain and came down the wrong way and broke his wrist. Brown is the Vikings backup to Tobias Pittman, who wasn't dressed out due to fluid being drained off his knee Wednesday.
" I am proud of Dawson for stepping in an running our offense for three quarters after Najee got injured," Craddock said. "I told him not to panic and that he had a good offensive line and great skilled players behind him.
"I just wanted him to go in and hand the ball off and that's all I asked of him," Craddock said. "He did what we asked and was able to help lead our offense."
The offense poured it on. They rushed for 306 yards and scored six rushing TDs. Special teams got a boost after the Vikings earned a safety. Loody Hinton returned the ensuing kickoff 86 yards for a TD.
"Our offense did what they were suppose to do," Craddock said. "We had different guys give us some big plays."
Senior Radja Bobbitt had another big game for the Vikings. On his first touch of the game, he went untouched for an 80-yard TD run. Bobbitt rushed for 136 yards on 10 carries and scored twice. Seniors Julian Lee and Jerod Bennett helped the Vikings rushing attack. They combined for 76 yards and score a TD apiece. Markese Clapp also added 29 yards and a TD.
Tarboro will travel to play the Rocky Mount Prep Jaguars Friday. It will be the first time Craddock and former Vikings offensive coordinator Don Reams face off against each other.