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VIDEO INCLUDED: Trojans beat East Bladen in overtime

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Video of final two plays in overtime

By Michael Paul, Sports Editor

 West Brunswick junior Daniel Locklear kicked a 22-yard field goal in overtime and then the Trojans blocked an ensuing field goal try by East Bladen to beat the Eagles 31-28 on their football homecoming night.

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Locklear is a junior varsity soccer player who was not on the West roster at the start of the year and the field goal was the first of his short football career.

“I was actually saying a prayer, hoping I would score,” Locklear said.

West fullback Khalil Gause gained unofficially 176 yards in the first half and scored three touchdowns as the Trojans took a 21-7 lead. But the Eagles rallied and led 28-21 with possession of ball and fewer than 5 minutes left.

“It was looking bleak,” West coach Jimmy Fletcher said.

The Eagles fumbled at their 37 with 4:06 left. Chris Ash recovered the ball and two runs by Markel Jones—the first 33 yards for an apparent dive-into-the-end-zone touchdown, the second 4 yards for a touchdown—cut the lead to 28-27. After a timeout, Locklear tied the score with 3:19 left. East Bladen was unable to score on the final possession in regulation and that led to overtime.

After a 0-4 start, West is now 3-0 in the conference. Fletcher, in his 10th year at West, said he was unable to remember whether any of his other Trojan teams ever started 3-0 in the conference.

“We talked about how close we were to being good,” he said. “We had some great leadership by our seniors. They kept believing in the coaching staff and themselves. I knew that if they ever got a win, a little confidence, they were going to be really good. Now we’re 3-0 in the conference with a chance to go 4-0. But we got to get better.”

Three conference games are left. West has a homecoming game Friday against Whiteville.

Locklear plays soccer on the junior varsity team. He wasn’t on the Trojans’ football roster at the start of the season, but his teammates, he said, urged him to try out for the football team.

“Because I have a big boot,” he said they told him.

West had lost yardage on its first two plays in overtime and faced third-and-14. Quarterback Dustin Darguzas threw a pass to Markel Jones, open in the slot on the left side of he field. Jones gained yardage to the 5.

“We worked that play so much this week,” Fletcher said. “That’s actually how we loosened up each day. They executed it to perfection.”

The Trojans now faced a fourth-and-goal at the 5 in overtime.

“I started to go for it,” Fletcher said, “and then I thought, ‘No, I better get points.’ And Daniel said, ‘Coach, I can do it.’”

“I was ready to win this game,” Locklear said.

Locklear lined up behind long snapper Hunter Howard and holder Nolan Scoggins.

“I was actually saying a prayer, hoping I would score,” Locklear said.

After he made the kick, he turned toward the West sideline and raised both hands in celebration.

On its possession, East Bladen gained yardage to the 6. It attempted a field goal to extend the overtime, but the Trojans blocked the kick. After the game, no one seemed sure who blocked the kick, but Matt Brayboy, Brandon Helton, Hunter Howard and Khalil Gause were among those who caved in the East Bladen line and blocked the kick. Gause said he got a hand on the ball.

It was fitting that Gause would have a hand in the final play. In the first half, the Eagles were unable to tackle him—he is 5-foot-9, 195 pounds.

“The blocking was excellent,” Gause said.

And the blocking was behind a reshuffled line after lineman Mike Smith suffered an injury on West’s fourth play. Senior Bobby McRainey took Smith’s place.

“He wasn’t even supposed to play tonight because of his leg,” Fletcher said. “He hadn’t played since he broke his leg against North Myrtle Beach. We were going to hold him out till next week. When Mike went down, we had no choice. We didn’t even know if he could go. He went in there and toughed it out the whole game.”

Gause scored three touchdowns in the first half as West took a 21-13 lead.

He scored his first touchdown on a 79-yard run. Locklear’s PAT put West ahead 7-0 with 4:25 left in the first quarter.

East Bladen tied the score on a 79-yard drive. The 1-yard run, the seventh play of the drive, and the PAT tied the score 7-7 with 1:21 left in the quarter.

On West’s next possession, Gause fumbled at the East Bladen 3. The Eagles moved the ball to the West 35, where they were stopped on downs at the West 37 with 9:27 left. Tackles by Jaleel Bryant and Hunter Howard helped stop the drive.

The Trojans, behind the running of Bryant and Markel Jones, then moved the ball 63 yards in 13 yards. Gause scored on a 3-yard run and Locklear’s kick gave the Trojans a 14-7 lead with 5:19 left in the half.

West’s next score was set up when Marquis Brown recovered a fumble at the East Bladen 29. On the next play, Gause ran to his left, stiff-armed an Eagle defender and scored. Locklear’s PAT made the score 21-7 with 3:34 left.

With the 21-7 lead after Gause’s third score, everything was going West’s way.

“I thought we were getting ready to blow them out,” Fletcher said.

But the Eagles cut the lead to 21-13 when they scored from inside the 1 with 1.8 seconds left.

The Eagles scored on their first two possessions in the second half and held West to 10 plays on two possessions. On the go-ahead scored with 10:30 left, East Bladen converted two fourth downs in a 60-yard drive.

“They did a great job of being patient and getting 3 and 4 yards and keeping our offense off the field,” Fletcher said.

But the fumble gave West its chance for a comeback, and it took advantage of the nearly last-minute chance.

“Your heart goes out to them because I know they’re crushed because they played their hearts out, too,” Fletcher said.

“It was great team win,” Fletcher said. “Great heart by our kids. It was just awesome.”

 

West JV wins

The West Brunswick junior varsity beat East Bladen 27-8 Sept. 27 at West. Tavon Stanley scored two touchdowns and Tayevonne Evans and Jiaire Gamble each scored a touchdown. On the defensive side, Connor Durham and Shane McKenzie each had one sack and Tayevonne Evans had one interception.

“The guys did an awesome job representing West,” coach Chris Orrock said. “The offense and defense both played very well last night.”

West is 2-1 in the conference.

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