ROCKY MOUNT —
It's been eight months since the Tarboro Vikings lost the state championship game to East Lincoln — eight months of bitterly agonizing over what could've, would've, should've happened.
Pehaps, the Vikings got rid of that bitter taste Friday by defeating Nash Central 21-0 in the first game of the season.
The victory starts a quest for the Vikings' sixth consecutive appearance in the state championship game. This quest was highlighted by the Vikings defense.
In nearly a flawless performance by the Vikings defense, the four-time state champions held Nash Central to a mere 41 total yards.
"It was the defense that set the tone early on"," said Tarboro Coach Jeff Craddock. "They were outstanding."
The tone that Craddock was talking about came in the first series. Tarboro quarterback, Tobias Pittman, was picked off by Quentin McNair and he returned it to the 6-yard line.
The Bulldogs would not get too much furthur. In four plays the Vikings stopped the Bulldogs on the 2-yard line turning the ball over on downs.
Tarboro made a statement on its ensuing series with a 15-play, 98-yard drive that was capped off by a 10-yard run by Radji Bobbitt.
"Our offense put us in a bad predicament," Craddock said. "Then our offense took over from there and drove 98 yards. That was awesome."
Despite a few offensive miscues, Tarboro dominated all phases of the game which had the impression of a blowout. The Vikings collected 17 first downs compared to three for the Bulldogs. They also grounded out 277 total yards.
On a miscue note, the Vikings had two touchdowns called back for holding and fumbled once. On each of the miscues, the Vikings defense prevailed and forced punts.
As lopsided as the statistics appears, the Vikings only led 14-0 at halftime and they scored their final TD in the fourth quarter to completely put the game away. Jarod Bennett scored on a 8-yard run in the second quarter and Deshan Farmer added the 2- point conversion that gave the Vikings the 14-0 halftime advantage. Bobbitt, who was the leading rusher in the game with 145 yards, added his second TD on a 17-yarder for the Vikings' final touchdown.
"Radja did what we expected him to do," Craddock said. "Last year he was the complimentary player behind Quentin (Roberson). We are expecting great things from him this year."
As for the shutout, Craddock said, "Right now I'm not getting too excited about it. This is the first game for both teams. I don't know how good our defense is. We will figure that out in the coming weeks."
The last time the Vikings lost a season opener was in 2011 against Nash Central (38-28).