Ayden-Grifton falters late in loss to West Craven
Ayden-Grifton’s Keshawn Best (2) chases down West Craven’s Latrell Campbell during a play in Thursday’s contest. Photo by William “Bud” Hardy / Neuse News
AYDEN — Ayden-Grifton wasted a brilliant effort from its defense, blew a two-touchdown second-half lead and dropped a stinging 16-14 decision to Eastern Carolina 2A Conference foe West Craven on Senior Night.
The Chargers (5-4, 2-2) led 14-0 in the third quarter after Micheal Baker picked off a Trent Casey pass in the end zone and raced 100 yards untouched for what at the time seemed like a momentum-altering touchdown.
To the Eagles’ credit, they didn’t wilt, taking the ensuing kickoff and marching 55 yards in six plays to trim the deficit to 14-8.
That’s how the third quarter ended, a quarter in which the Chargers ran just three offensive plays while West Craven (4-4, 3-1) held the ball for 20 plays and 10:50.
Three A-G possessions in the fourth quarter yielded no points, two first downs, a punt, and two interceptions.
“Our defense stayed on the field too long in the second half,” A-G coach Paul Cornwell said. “Offensively, we didn’t execute, we didn’t keep the chains moving, and we did nothing to help the defense. You can’t win with just one side of the ball doing its job.”
The Charger defense surrendered just 259 total yards, but 80 came on one huge play in the fourth quarter.
Trailing by six and facing a third-and-6 at its own 14-yard line, West Craven perfectly executed a middle screen that ended with Latrell Campbell scampering for 80 yards before being dragged down at the A-G 6.
Silas Wallace found paydirt on the next play, and Casey hooked up with Charles Collins for the tie-breaking 2-point conversion with 3:28 left in the game.
A-G still had plenty of time to mount a comeback and started the ensuing possession at its own 40. Three plays netted a first down at the WC 49 before disaster struck.
Charger quarterback Blake McLawhorn was sacked on consecutive plays, and then on third-and-26 from the A-G 35, he was picked off, allowing West Craven to run the final minute off the clock.
“We played hard and I’m proud of the effort,” Cornwell said. “We just didn’t do enough on offense, and that led to a couple of breakdowns on defense. Give West Craven credit. They just made a few more plays than we did.”
The Chargers received a couple of nice individual efforts from Webb, who also caught three passes for 29 yards, including an 11-yard, fourth down strike from McLawhorn in the second quarter, and Ray Darden, who plowed his way for 134 yards rushing on 17 carries.
Darden’s 53-yard burst set up the Chargers’ first touchdown.
A-G also missed a 21-yard field goal on the final play of the first half, three points lost that proved especially costly.
“It’s a tough loss that we have to put behind us,” Cornwell said. “How we bounce back from this one will say a lot about our football team. We’re definitely going to find out what we’re made of.”
West Craven 16, Ayden-Grifton 14
West Craven 0 0 8 8—16
Ayden-Grifton 0 7 7 0—14
AG—Micheal Webb 11 pass from Blake McLawhorn (Christian Hernandez kick), 2:30
AG—Webb 100 interception return (Hernandez kick), 6:57
WC—Raquandre Johnson 25 pass from Trent Casey (Latrell Campbell pass from Casey), 3:50
WC—Silas Wallace 6 run (Charles Collins pass from Casey), 3:28
First Downs 12 8
Rushes-yards 29-53 36-191
Passing 13-27-2 4-13-2
Passing yards 206 27
Total yards 259 218
Punts-avg. 5-32.0 5-28.0
Fumbles-lost 2-0 0-0
Penalties 4-18 2-20
RUSHING—West Craven: Silas Wallace 16-52, Latrell Campbell 1-8, Kedrick Tyre 1-4, Trent Casey 7-(minus 9). Ayden-Grifton: Ray Darden 17-134, Marlon Cannon 6-25, Blake McLawhorn 3-22, Keshawn Best 3-17, Micheal Webb 2-5, Jeffrey Gunter 4-(minus 3).
PASSING—West Craven: Trent Casey 12-27-2 206. Ayden-Grifton: McLawhorn 4-12-2 27, Best 0-1-0 0.
RECEIVING—West Craven: Campbell 6-149, Raquandre Johnson 3-26, Nolan Jones 2-17, Charles Collins 1-9, Arthur Abrams 1-5. Ayden-Grifton: Webb 3-29, Darden 1-(minus 2).