A-G rolls past Seahawks in 61-0 opener
AYDEN -- The 2018 high school football season kicked off Friday night as the Ayden-Grifton Chargers hosted the Southside Seahawks of Chocowinity. The only thing hotter than the on-field temperature at game time were the Chargers themselves, as they dominated on both sides of the ball.
Led by a three-touchdown performance by Michael Webb and two scores by Ray Darden, Ayden-Grifton rolled to a 61-0 . The lopsided victory helped to avenge a 26-0 loss last year against Southside to open the season.
“This was a learning experience for us. We said that we had to watch turnovers and we had five of them tonight. We have to eliminate them if we want to be successful this year,” Southside coach Jeff Carrow said.
The game started perfectly for the Chargers when a kickoff was mishandled by the Seahawks. AG’s Tyler Brown fell on it and recovered it on the 19-yard-line. Four plays later, Darden stormed through a big hole in the middle for a 12-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-two.
“It’s always a great thing to start a game off like that," A-G coach Paul Cornwell said. "We’ve spent a lot of time on special teams. We feel that can carry the game. We were very successful with that last year. We try to do the little things right and it pays off for us. We blocked a punt, kicked extra points well with a new kicker and recovered a kickoff fumble. The guys took a lot of pride in that.”
On the Seahawks’ first possession, they were knocked back a yard on their first ground attempt. On their first pass, Jeffrey Gunter nearly intercepted the ball. On the very next play, Vito Boyd recovered a fumble for the Chargers. Blake McLawhorn would soon find Gunter in the end zone for an 8yd reception to put Ayden-Grifton up 14-0.
When the Chargers got the ball back, they wasted no time in scoring. On second down, Webb took a handoff from McLawhorn and swept to the left side. He stormed down the field, diving into the end zone for a 52-yard touchdown.
“It was a switch call and I saw it late. I was just able to jump onto the ball,” Webb said. “Our intensity was on fire tonight. We came out and had some exciting special team plays and played great on defense.”
The Chargers started up the second quarter with an interception on a tipped ball. However, on the return, the ball was fumbled and recovered by Webb. A minute later, Webb found the end zone again for Ayden, this time on a 15 yd run to the right.
The Seahawks finally found some life and began to move methodically down the field. Southside quarterback Will Warren fired off a pass that was intercepted by Webb on the 1-yard line and was returned to midfield. A late hit tacked on another 15 yards for the Chargers. The drive was capped off with an 8yd run by Blake McLawhorn. The Chargers closed the half with a 25-yard pass by McLawhorn to Webb to put Ayden-Grifton up 41-0.
“The intensity was good. The challenge is always to keep them hungry after halftime. These guys showed a lot of maturity and kept playing hard to the final whistle,” Cornwell said.
A 70-yard touchdown run by Webb to open up the second half was called back for a holding penalty. Darden answered it with an 80 run on the next play to start the running clock. Darden would end up leading the team with 146 yards and two touchdowns.
“That one was called back and I hoped to get the ball back because I wanted to take it to the house and grab that score back for us,” Darden said. “We had a lot of guys bringing their A-game tonight. Webb stepped it up. The seniors played hard tonight, but the young guys played hard too. Great game.”
The Chargers started the fourth quarter in the red zone after driving down the field to end the third. Backup quarterback Josh Wright would put the ball in on a 14 yd run. Wright would score a second touchdown in the closing minutes of the game on a 17 yd run. He would end the night with 45 yards rushed on three carries.
“The line helped me out a lot,” Wright said. “The running backs had some great plays to set me up. The line opened up some holes and I was able to get right in there. It feels great to be a part of a game like this and contribute for the team.”
“Josh has all the tools we need for this team. He’s playing behind a senior, but he knows the expectations for him are the same for everyone else and he plays hard,” Coach Cornwell said.
RUSHING: Southside: Brinkley 5-21, Wright 4-15, Haywood 1-12, Warren 4-12, Mayo 7-2, Clark 1- -1, Campbell 2- -3, Stallings 1- -9
AG: Darden 8-146, Webb 2-69, Wright 3-45, Cannon 4-24, McLawhorn 5-23, Boomer 2-14, Connell 1-7, Crossen 1-2, Best 1-1, Brown 1- -4
PASSING: Southside: Stallings 1-4 32, Warren 1-5 21
APA: McLawhorn 3-6 58
RECEIVING: Southside: Wright 2-53
AG: Gunter 2-33, Webb 1-25