Written by Kai Jones
WARSAW — The Eastern Wayne football team struggled to finish in Monday’s season opener on the road against James Kenan.
The Warriors lost 37-27. Eastern Wayne was up 27-12 in the third quarter before allowing James Kenan to score four touchdowns unanswered.
“I told them going into the fourth quarter, that this game of football is all about finishing as a team,” Eastern Wayne head coach Leander Oates said after the game. “And, um, we fell short tonight.”
James Kenan came out fast as junior quarterback Andrew Pender threw a 54-yard TD pass to sophomore wideout Hayden Mcgee on 3rd and 15. Eastern Wayne immediately struck back as JJ Murray toted the ball 58 yards to the end zone before it was wiped away by a holding call.
Murray busted off a 42-yard run just three plays later. Senior Dajon Morrisey then picked the ball off in the red zone the next play — a symbol for what the game played out to be.
“We fought hard,” James Kenan head coach Ken Avent said. “Our backs were against the wall the whole first half. We came out and got a few key stops, and were able to move and run the ball. I’m proud of our guys for the fighting.”
Eastern Wayne was called for close to twenty penalties. Many of those penalties came in critical moments such as chunk plays offensively or in third and short plays defensively.
“We had a balanced game,” Oates said. “There was a lot of positives for how we started. Looking forward, if we can get a good start on games going forward, I think we’ll be okay. But the biggest part is about finishing.”
Eastern Wayne will get a chance to finish better on Friday in its 3A/4A Eastern Carolina Conference opened at home versus South Central at 6 p.m. James Kenan will welcome in White Oak on Friday at 6 p.m.