Photo and article from Laieke Abebe
Eastern Wayne began its football season with a big performance on Monday evening against Southern Wayne.
Trailing 14-8 at the half, the Warriors outscored Southern Wayne 32-8 in the second half en route to a 40-22 road win in Dudley. Dating back to last season, it is the Warriors’ third win in their last five games with two of them coming against the Saints.
“We didn’t get off to a great start, but we finished strong,” Eastern Wayne head coach Leander Oates said. “I’m happy with how we executed in the run game and our offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage. With everything that’s going on right now, we told our seniors at halftime to take care of this moment, and they did that.”
Eastern Wayne started its first two possessions in plus territory, but came up empty thanks to a good start defensively from the Saints. Sophomore Nasier Jones intercepted a pass in the opening quarter, but both teams were scoreless after one quarter.
The Warriors would get the scoring started early in the second quarter when quarterback Trevor Warren found C.J. Battle for a 20-yard score. Add the two-point conversion by Dennislyn Swinson and it was 8-0.
“We’ve been working all offseason, especially in the weight room,” Warren said. “It’s helped us prepare for the season and we can definitely build on this game going forward.”
After being forced to punt on the next series, the Southern Wayne defense would get the ball back on an interception. On the Saints’ next drive, Markowan Smith tied the game on a five-yard scamper plus a two-point conversion of his own.
The Saints would also score right before the half thanks to quarterback Joshua Kearney diving across the goal line on third and goal. Southern Wayne would take a 14-8 lead to the halftime break.
“We saw that we could move the ball against a quality opponent,” Southern Wayne head coach Ronnie McClary said. “We also had a few nice stops defensively, but they had a lot of momentum in the third quarter. I like how we responded in the fourth quarter, but it was too late.”
Eastern Wayne would outscore their rivals, 22-0 in the third quarter to regain control of the game. Jones scored a 45-yard rushing ton touchdown on the second play of the third quarter and the Warriors had the lead after another two-point play.
After forcing a Saints fumble, Rahkeem Faison hit on a 13-yard scoring dash, and all of the sudden, it was a 22-14 lead for the Warriors. Then, it would be Swinson again with another rushing score to make it a two-possession game.
Southern Wayne would stay in it with a Kearney passing touchdown to get back within eight points. The Warriors responded with a long drive, but the Saints forced a fumble at the goal line to get the ball back with a chance to tie.
However, Eastern Wayne wouldn’t be fazed as the defense forced a safety to go up 32-22 with four minutes left. Swinson then capped it off with a 60-yard touchdown run to ice the game.
“We did what we had to do,” the senior running back said. “There are still some things we have to work on, but it’s good to start off with a win against a big rival.”
Southern Wayne has a bye week before traveling to face Goldsboro on September 3rd. Meanwhile, Eastern Wayne will host C.B. Aycock this Friday.