LEGGETT – The North Edgecombe Warriors had been scoreless in their last eight quarters of action coming into the game Monday night against the Rocky Mount Prep Jaguars. Warriors head coach Keith Parisher was hoping for a change and was looking for his offense to pick it up and put points on the scoreboard. He found the spark he had been looking for in freshman running back Antoine Pittman. Pittman scored four touchdowns and rushed for 126 yards on 12 carries to lead the Warriors to 42-6 win. North Edgecombe improves to 2-3 overall.
"Antoine is a good player and is a good running back," Parisher said. "After working with him at the running back spot this week I know he's a running back now and not a fullback. He showed me that he can be a halfback for us."
Pittman was moved to the running back spot after playing the fullback position the first four games of the season after senior fullback Darius Phillips returned to action last week. Phillips was sidelined due to a foot fracture, but he is back at 100 percent according to Parisher.
North Edgecombe grounded out 365 yards on the ground and their defense stepped up in a big way and held the Jaguars to only 175 yards of offense.
"We came out and refocused before the game because we know we have the potential to score points," Parisher said. "We have known that all along. In our last two loses we have moved the ball but we were missing that one back that could take it to the house. With Darius back at full speed and Antoine learning the halfback position we will be able to score on any situation."
North Edgecombe struggled in the first half and led 16-6 at halftime, but the second half was a totally different game for the Warriors. They scored 26 unanswered points and put the game out of reach early in the third quarter when they scored two TDs in a three minute span.
North Edgecombe started the second half from their own 37-yard line and used three different backs to pound the ball down the field. On a first and 10 from the 45-yard line, Travonte Collins took the hand off from quarterback Clifton Dickens and bursted up the middle and broke two tackles and then he spun off of a third would be Jaguar tackler and sprinted 45 yards for the score to give the Warriors a 22-6 lead with 10:10 left in the third.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Warriors recovered a Jaguar fumble on the 41-yard line. Phillips took three consecutive carries down to the 4-yard line after he had runs of 35, 2 and 3 yards. On a fourth and goal from the one, Pittman punched it in to give the Warriors a commanding 28-6 lead with 7:41 left in the third.
"We refocused at halftime and came out did what we were suppose to do," Parisher said. "We ran the ball hard and played with more focus."
With a little over seven minutes left to play in the game, the Jaguars running back Josh Connie fumbled the ball on the 41-yard line and Collins recovered the fumble for the Warriors.
Once again, the Warriors took only three plays to score and capped it off with a Pittman 9-yard TD run to give the Warriors a 36-6 lead.
North Edgecombe used nine different backs in the game to carry the pigskin for them. Parisher knows he has plenty of options when it comes to carrying the football. He is just looking for all the underclassmen to gain more confidence as they carry the ball each time and knows he has a lot of fast backs.
"We have plenty of options and they have to do what they are capable of doing," Parisher said. "We have guys that can run the ball hard and they are fast but they have to understand that."
North Edgecombe did struggle early in the game and were called for several false start penalties. They also had some backs to run the ball the wrong way, which Parisher said has been a problem this season.
"It has been the same problem all year with us making simple mistakes by running the wrong way or somebody jumping offsides," Parisher said. "We seem to shoot ourself in the foot a lot."
Phillips finished the game with eight carries for 70 yards, while Collins had six carries for 30 yards.
The game did mark a return to Edgecombe County for the Jaguars head coach Don Reams. He was an assistant at Tarboro for over 20 years and was part of three state championship teams while coaching at Tarboro.
This is the first year that he has had a varsity team at Rocky Mount Prep and knows he has to build it from the ground up.
"Coaching at Rocky Mount Prep is a whole lot different then being at Tarboro where you are expected to win," Reams said. "These young men I am coaching now have to get to that point and our weight program has to improve. We have to get that desire to win early and I appreciate these young men planting seeds."
North Edgecombe will travel to Northampton County Friday and return to Tar-Roanoke Conference action.
"I think our confidence is going to be up Friday when we play Northampton," Parisher said. "We are playing a team that has a good running back but if we can stop him we will be alright."
Parisher said from what he has seen on film he thinks his Warriors will be able to go out and compete against Northampton.