Ayden-Grifton uses strong ground game to defeat Greene Central
Ayden-Grifton’s Blake McLawhorn hands the ball off to Ray Darden during Thursday’s contest with Greene Central. Photo by William “Bud” Hardy / Neuse News
SNOW HILL | Ayden-Grifton’s ground game has been a key to success with Thursday being no exception.
The Chargers broke open a close game at halftime with a 25-6 victory over Greene Central, paced behind 204 yards and four touchdowns from Ray Darden. Ayden-Grifton (6-4) had several sustained drives while keeping a potent Greene Central (6-4) offense in check.
“We had to start early and hit them in the mouth,” Darden said. “We had to play our game and the run game happened to be there this night.”
Greene Central started strong on its opening drive with a 23-yard run from A.J. Dupree on the first play and Zakvil Smith’s 35-yard connection with Dupree later. The Rams offense stalled at the Chargers’ 13, and Ayden-Grifton would march 87 yards in 12 plays, with Darden scoring from 27 yards out. Although the Chargers kept the Rams out of the red zone for the remainder of the half, the team couldn’t convert on their two trips. A turnover on downs on one drive and a missed 25-yard field goal on the second kept the game at 7-0 heading into the break.
Darden would score two plays into the third quarter, but Greene Central struck back as Dupree threw a strike to Saquan Conner for a 54-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to six. Ayden-Grifton would then go 56 yards and 10 plays on the ensuing drive, capped off by a Darden 4-yard run and after stopping Greene Central at the 25, had another long drive, ending in Darden’s 5-yard score.
The Rams went three-and-out on their next two drives and had just two first downs in the second half.
Ayden-Grifton coach Paul Cornwell said the team made strong adjustments, especially after last week’s 16-14 heartbreaker to West Craven.
“I thought we had a good week of practice (leading into this one),” Cornwell said. “We’re still a work in progress, trying to take those steps forward. We had a late turnover, but I thought we did a great job protecting the ball and running hard. All the guys up front did a great job adjusting to the different looks (Greene Central) gave us and the defense made some big plays. It was a team win.”
Greene Central coach Allen Wooten said the team didn’t play with the necessary effort in a big game.
“We have to play more physical,” Wooten said. “(Ayden-Grifton) dominated the line of scrimmage and we didn’t play with a lot of passion. Yeah, we’ve had injuries but we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We missed a lot of tackles and (the Chargers) wanted it more.”
Ayden-Grifton will go on the road in the season finale to play South Lenoir on Nov. 9 while Greene Central hosts Kinston on the same day.
AYDEN-GRIFTON 25, GREENE CENTRAL 6
AG 7 0 12 6—25
GC 0 0 6 0—6
AG — Ray Darden 27 run (Christian Hernandez kick), 1:44
AG — Darden 37 run (kick failed), 11:11
GC — Saquan Connor 54 pass from A.J. Dupree (run failed), 9:33
AG —Darden 4 run (kick failed), 4:08
AG — Darden 5 run (pass failed), 9:01
First Downs 22 8
Rushes 59-361 53-367
Passing 2-5-0 4-5-0
Passing Yards 14 92
Total yards 375 459
Punts 1-37.0 4-30.3
Fumbles 3-1 2-0
Penalties 7-80 13-85
RUSHING— Ayden-Grifton: Ray Darden 25-204, Marlon Cannon 12-55, Kevin Boomer 8-53, Tyler Brown 4-27, Michael Webb 4-19, Jaylen Crossen 1-6, Blake McLawhorn 2-1, #55 1-1, Jeffrey Gunter 2-minus 5. Greene Central: A.J. Dupree 12-83, Knowledge Branch 13-33, Saquan Connor 1-minus 5.
PASSING— Ayden-Grifton: McLawhorn 2-5-0, 14. Greene Central: Dupree 5-16-0, 106; Zakvil Smith 0-1-0, 0.
RECEIVING— Ayden-Grifton: Josh Wright 1-16, Gunter 1-minus 2. Greene Central: Connor 2-53, Smith 1-35, Branch 1-22, Quaheem Giggetts 1-minus 4.