GC tops North Lenoir in Hawks' first game since Sept. 7
Greene Central’s Brandon Gilbert runs the ball back after an interception during Friday’s contest with North Lenoir. Photo by William ‘Bud’ Hardy / Neuse News
A crazy game played under weirder circumstances ended with Greene Central picking up another conference victory.
The Rams jumped out on North Lenoir early, winning 42-26, but Greene Central coach Allen Wooten said a lackadaisical nature later in the contest left a bad taste in his mouth.
“We didn’t play very well,” Wooten said. “You can make excuses about losing two linemen and our quarterback out, but we showed in spurts we can play better than we did. We got complacent and championship teams can’t do that. We’ve got West Craven, Ayden-Grifton, Kinston and South Lenoir left and if you play like this against any of them, you may not get this same result.
“All in all we’re 5-2 and 2-0 in the conference, so you’ve got to be pleased with that.”
This was North Lenoir’s first game since Sept. 7 due to Hurricane Florence, and the game had to be played at Kinston High School because of field damage in Wheat Swamp. The teams swapped three-and-outs before A.J. Dupree scored from 4 yards out midway through the first, and it wouldn’t get much better for North Lenoir.
The Hawks turned the ball over on their next four drives, including an 85-yard interception return for a touchdown by Saquan Connor to put the Rams up 28-0 late in the second quarter.
“We pursued it, caught the pick and took it to the house,” Connor said. “I feel like we can shut out any team we play.”
North Lenoir (0-4, 0-1 Eastern Carolina 2A) got on the board before halftime as Christian Young found Jason Gagnon for a 25-yard touchdown and went on a long drive to start the third, highlighted by a 40-yard fake punt connection from Damon Hewitt to Onassis Gardner, but a lost fumble ended the drive.
Two plays later, Jaden Johnson scored from 41 yards out to give Greene Central a 34-6 advantage. Although the Hawks came back with a 61-yard fumble return touchdown by Gardner, on the next offensive play, Knowledge Branch scored on an 85-yard run.
The Hawks picked up a pair of touchdowns in the fourth, including Blake Davis’ 21-yard fumble return in the waning seconds.
North Lenoir coach Jim Collins said it was an adjustment playing again, but was happy about the progress his team made.
“It was like playing our first game over again,” Collins said. “We hadn’t really turned the ball over up until tonight and that killed us. The offense was able to move the ball pretty well and the kids fought. Greene Central is a good team and we did make some mistakes, but there are some positives to take from this one.”
GREENE CENTRAL 42, NORTH LENOIR 26
GC 6 22 14 0—42
NL 0 6 8 12—26
GC — A.J. Dupree 4 run (run failed), 6:08
GC — Zakvil Smith 27 pass from Dupree (Dupree run), 10:17
GC — Knowledge Branch 1 run (pass failed), 7:38
GC — Saquan Connor 85 interception return (Dupree run), 3:51
NL — Jason Gagnon 25 pass from Christian Young (pass failed), 1:07
GC — Jaden Johnson 41 run (run failed), 6:36
NL — Onassis Gardner 61 fumble return (Jaziah King run), 1:08
GC — Branch 85 run (Johnson run), :45
NL — Terrance Copper 10 run (pass failed), 11:53
NL — Blake Davis 21 fumble return (pass failed), :17
First Downs 17 16
Rushes 36-343 36-156
Passing 7-11-0 9-22-3
Passing Yards 102 117
Total Yards 445 273
Punts 1-27.0 3-32.7
Fumbles 3-3 4-3
Penalties 11-83 4-27
RUSHING — Greene Central: Knowledge Branch 11-160, A.J. Dupree 17-109, Jaden Johnson 4-71, Cornelius Smith 3-6, Cole Dawson 1-minus 3. North Lenoir: Terrance Copper 20-124, Onassis Gardner 10-47, Isiah Warren 1-minus 4, Christian Young 5-minus 11.
PASSING — Greene Central: Dupree 6-9-0, 100; Dawson 1-2-0, 2. North Lenoir: Young 8-21-3, 77; Damon Hewitt 1-1-0, 40.
RECEIVING — Greene Central: Quaheem Giggets 3-62, Zakvil Smith 1-27, Saquan Connor 2-8, Jabari Barnes 1-5. North Lenoir: Jason Gagnon 4-56, Gardner 2-41, Copper 1-8, Ny’ai Koonce 1-8, Asham Williams 1-4.