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BURGAW—Running behind a big offensive line, Travis Carter scored four touchdowns as Pender defeated South Brunswick 38-7 in a hard-hitting high school football game Friday mangled by a number of late hits.
The Patriots were the most physical and largest football team the Cougars have faced all year. The Cougar offensive line could not move the defensive linemen of Pender, who on average were 5 inches taller and 60 pounds heavier than the South Brunswick linemen. This defensive unit also was the offensive line for Pender.
At 8 minutes, 18 seconds of the first quarter, Carter scored his first touchdown. At 4:54 of the first quarter, Pender scored again. The Cougars blocked the point-after kick, but the score quickly was 13-0 in favor of the Patriots.
The second quarter saw more of the same, as Pender scored on another running play and took a 19-0 lead.
End runs could not produce any gains for the Cougars against the speedy linebackers of Pender.
There were two late hits by Pender in the first half, and the Cougars could manage only one first down and 32 yards. The Patriots did not have to punt in the first half. A number of dropped passes by the Cougar receivers hurt the offense, who just could not get their running and possession game going tonight.
At 2:35 of the second quarter, another run was good for a Pender score, and the lead went to 25-0.
A run and two incomplete passes before the half forced the Cougars to punt one more time.
The Patriots moved the ball for yet another score, overcoming an offside and an unsportsmanlike-conduct call. A 24-yard touchdown pass for the Patriots ended the half with Pender ahead 31-0.
Despite some impressive blocking on the offensive line by Matt Adkins and Cameron Young, the Cougars were forced to punt on their first possession of the second half. A pass-interference call was missed by the referees on one play, and the Cougars were called for two personal fouls in another sequence as they were moving the ball.
Another drive ended when the Patriots intercepted a pass in the end zone. From the South 20, Pender went on another touchdown drive, extending the lead to 38-0.
South scored its only points on its ensuing possession. A 9-yard run by Quan Ray and a late hit by Pender helped the Cougars move the ball. A pass from quarterback Zack Alcorn to tight end A.J. Ferguson provided South Brunswick with its only score of the evening. Alcorn, who years ago won the district punt, pass and kick competition, probably never dreamed he would do this much punting in one game.
His kick for the point-after-touchdown was good.
“I was really scared of this football team,” Pender coach Tom Eanes said, “especially the way they played South Columbus. Travis Carter had a great game for us running the ball, but his strength is defense. We did have a few penalties.”
Indeed, there was another late hit in the fourth quarter by Pender, which was called, but another late hit and an out-of-bounds hit were not called, as two injured Cougars had to leave the game.
The passing game helped move the ball for the Cougars, but the strength of this football team is the running game, which was halted for the first time this year.
“Pender is a great football team,” South coach Gordon Walters said. “They went to the Eastern finals last year. A lot of credit has to go to them. They’re the most physical team we played all year.
“We have to put this behind us. We have to come out fighting. We are a good team. We were 8-2 for the season—we can’t forget that. Next week is a big challenge.”
That challenge is the start of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association football playoffs. The Cougars, seeded No. 11 in Class 2-AA, travel Friday to East Duplin, 8-3 but seeded No. 6. The game begins at 7:30 p.m.