NL overcomes adversity to down Farmville and remain perfect
North Lenoir’s Jaden Kilpatrick (9) drags some Farmville Central defenders during the first quarter of Friday’s game. Photo by Linda Whittington / Neuse News
FARMVILLE — The times, they are a-changin’ in Wheat Swamp.
With less than 30 seconds remaining before halftime, North Lenoir overcame what could’ve been two critical gaffes and trailed the host Jaguars of Farmville Central, 14-13. But a fumble return for a touchdown on the final play of the first half and some great defense in the second half pushed the Hawks to a 39-14 victory over the Jaguars Friday night.
The victory — only the second against Farmville Central in a 21-game series that dates back to 1971 — improved North Lenoir to 2-0 for the first time since 2008.
North Lenoir led 13-7 late in the first half after short touchdown runs by senior quarterback Filipio Sualevai and junior running back Malik Jones — and the Hawks wanted a little bit more. But on second-and-three near midfield, Jones’ attempt to stretch out a run resulted in a fumble that was returned 54 yards by Farmville’s Jakiem Joyner for a 14-13 Jaguars’ lead.
It got worse for the Hawks when, after the kickoff and on North Lenoir’s first play from scrimmage, Sualevai fumbled the ball away to Farmville Central with 11.5 seconds left before halftime.
Instead of taking a knee and running the clock out, though, Farmville Central freshman quarterback Brandon Knight fumbled and the ball was recovered by Sualevai, who sprinted 35 yards and gave the Hawks a 19-14 halftime lead.
“We could’ve just tucked our tails, but we didn’t,” North Lenoir second-year coach Jim Collins said. “Filipio’s big play kind of turned the tide back in our favor.”
The second half was all North Lenoir as the Hawks defense intercepted Knight twice — including a 98-yard interception return for a touchdown by sophomore Justin Cobb that closed the NL scoring — and included two fourth-quarter touchdown runs by Jones and Ny’jai Koonce.
“We want to keep our defense simple and put the kids in a good place,” Collins said. “That’s how we run our defense.”
The Hawks were 0-10 in Collins’ first campaign last season — although there were a few games North Lenoir led in the fourth quarter but were unable to get the win. Jones said his team has learned from last year’s lessons.
“The mindset is really good this year,” he said. “We’ve got good coaches and they keep us in shape. We’re doing way better than we did last year.
The North Lenoir offense, which didn’t attempt a pass for a second straight game (other than on a successful two-point conversion in the fourth quarter), finished with 276 yards. Sualevai, who didn’t play the second half due to severe cramping, led the Hawks with 92 yards rushing and a touchdown on six carries. Jones had 74 yards rushing and two scores while sophomore fullback Jaden Kilpatrick added 70 yards on 12 hauls.
Farmville Central, which lost 40-14 to Kinston on the same field a week earlier, was held to 199 yards of total offense. Junior running back Rahshae Owens paced the Jags’ rushing game with 94 yards on only seven carries, while junior running back Tavyon Suggs had 51 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
Knight, who completed his first two passes in Farmville’s first drive of the game, failed to complete his final eight and was picked off twice by the stingy North Lenoir defense. He finished with a total of 18 yards passing.
North Lenoir will attempt to start a season 3-0 for the first time since 1993 next week when the Hawks host East Carteret (0-2) in Wheat Swamp.
“(East Carteret) runs a pretty dynamic offense, so we have some work to do,” Collins said.
Extra points: Before Friday, the only time North Lenoir had defeated Farmville Central was on Oct. 10, 2005, when the Hawks won 35-24 in Wheat Swamp. … In a series that began in 1971 and has ran from 1971-80, 2005-08 and 2013-19, the Hawks were 1-19 all-time against the Jaguars and 0-10 at Farmville Central before Friday’s win. … North Lenoir’s 39 points on Friday was the most ever for the Hawks against Farmville Central, breaking the record of 35 points in 2005. … The 59 points scored through the first two games of the season is the most for North Lenoir since 2008, which is ironically the last time the Hawks began a season 2-0. That year, the Hawks scored 63 points in its first two games against Richlands and North Johnston. … The Hawks will attempt to start a season 3-0 for only the eighth time in program history next week when they host East Carteret. North Lenoir started 3-0 in 1965, 1970, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1980 and 1993. The best starts in program history came in 1973 and 1980 when the Hawks began both seasons 4-0. … North Lenoir extended its county record of non-shutouts to 49 games.
North Lenoir 39, Farmville Central 14
NL 0 19 0 20 — 39
FC 7 7 0 0 — 14
FC—Tavyon Suggs 1 run (Zander Gardner kick), 1:30
NL—Filipio Sualevai 2 run (Trey Kivett kick), 9:22
NL—Malik Jones 8 run (kick failed), 3:20
FC—Jakiem Joyner 54 fumble return (Gardner kick), 0:29.5
NL—Sualevai 35 fumble return (run failed), 0:00
NL—Ny’jai Koonce 7 run (Jones pass from Austin Dildy), 8:03
NL—Jones 26 run (run failed), 4:43
NL—Justin Cobb 98 interception return (kick failed), 1:07
First downs 11 11
Rushes 38-276 32-181
Passing 0-0-0 2-10-2
Passing yards 0 18
Total yards 276 199
Punts 1-28.0 2-48.0
Fumbles/Lost 2-2 4-1
Penalties 6-30 7-46
Rushing — North Lenoir: Filipio Sualevai 6-92, Malik Jones 9-74, Jaden Kilpatrick 12-70, Ny’jai Koonce 7-29, Savion White 3-15, Austin Dildy 1-(minus-4). Farmville Central: Rahshae Owens 7-94, Tavyon Suggs 13-51, Dontavious Short 5-21, Anthony Suggs 1-13, Richard Peterson 2-6, Brandon Paige 1-1, Brandon Knight 3-(minus-5).
Passing — NL: none. FC: Knight 2-10-2, 18.
Receiving — NL: none. FC: Wesley Day 1-13, Short 1-5.