By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
Eastern Alamance toughened up on defense after early blips Friday night. But it was a trick play from the offense that helped the undefeated Eagles take control against visiting Western Alamance.
Eastern executed a hook-and-lateral play in the final minute of the first half and the Warriors couldn’t generate enough offense to make up for that.
The Eagles won 28-14 in the Central 3-A Conference game in Mebane.
Running back Josh Murray scored three touchdowns, though his favorite came in the final minute of the first half.
Quarterback Jason Ball’s toss to Taraji Rogers led to a pitch to Murray, who bolted down the left sideline for the final 55 yards of the 61-yard play.
“I thought it was a big turning point of the game,” Eastern coach John Kirby.
That gave the Eagles (5-0 overall, 1-0 Central 3-A Conference) a 21-7 halftime lead.
“It worked,” Murray said. “That was a big one. Tyrek (Samuel) got it last year.”
The Warriors (4-2, 1-1) lost more than the game. Junior defensive back Kaleb Long left in an ambulance with a severely injured ankle. The game was halted for about a half-hour with 4:09 remaining in the third quarter as Long was tended to on the field.
It was a strong start for Western, which stopped Eastern’s fourth-down play on the game’s opening possession. Seven plays later, the Warriors were in the end zone on Evan Kuehnel’s 1-yard toss to Zeke May.
Then the Eagles took over, using an 11-play drive and Murray’s 1-yard run for their first points. They needed only three plays for their next touchdown, again with Murray plowing in from 1 yard out.
“I thought it was a defensive battle,” Kirby said.
Linebacker Chazz May’s interception of Ball appeared to give the Warriors momentum, though Eastern’s Douglas Kittrells Jr. made a touchdown-saving tackle on May’s return. Then the Eagles rose defensively and forced a punt.
On the next snap, Murray scored his third touchdown of the game on the gadget play.
“That hit us hard,” Western coach Jeff Snuffer said.
Samuel’s 27-yard run in the third quarter stretched Eastern’s lead to 28-7 during what became the rainy second half.
In the meantime, Western’s offense continually stalled.
“Offensively, we didn’t get it done,” Snuffer said. “We had our chances offensively. You have to produce when you get good field position.”
Cam Cotton’s 1-yard run for Western came with 5:12 remaining.
Southern Alamance 72, Cedar Ridge 6: At Mt. Hermon, Landon Dodson threw for three touchdowns as the host Patriots overwhelmed their Central 3-A Conference opponent. A running clock was used for the second half.
Josiah Tysinger ran for three touchdowns, and Logan Foust scored two touchdowns for Southern (5-1, 2-0).
Dodson’s scoring passes went to Foust for 51 yards, Tyler Moore for 21 yards, and Justin Donley for 6 yards.
Jackson Parrish, who opened the scoring on a 15-yard run, Kater Cornwell, and Evan Gerringer also scored touchdowns.
Parrish was charted with 110 yards on seven carries.
Cedar Ridge (0-6, 0-2) wasn’t credited with a first down. Mason Cates scored on an 85-yard kickoff return for the team’s points.
Williams 28, Orange 3: At Hillsborough, Dan Mahan threw two touchdown passes, Amarion Richmond ran for two touchdowns, and Williams used defense to control host Orange in the Central 3-A Conference game.
Richmond scored the first and final touchdowns for the Bulldogs (3-3, 1-1).
Mahan threw to Will Cooper for another touchdown early in the second quarter. He connected with Haneef Rasheed II for the other passing touchdown.
Orange (2-4, 0-2) scored on a fourth-quarter field goal.
Cummings 65, Graham 0: At Graham, Jonathan Paylor returned a punt for a touchdown among the scoring plays as the visiting Cavaliers rolled to another Mid-Carolina Conference victory.
The Cavaliers (5-1, 4-0) have posted three shutouts this year, including two in a row.
Graham (0-4, 0-2) lost for the sixth consecutive meeting with its neighboring rival.
Southeast Alamance had the night off.