Week 4 - High school rewind

Coach Kevin Motsinger's New Hanover squad will have to cut down on the flags with Scotland County coming to Legion Stadium on Friday. (Photo by Paul Stephen)

With Friday's game at Purnell Swett slipping away, New Hanover flipped the script for a 35-20 victory, closing with a flourish that even surprised coach Kevin Motsinger.

The Rams had scored 14 straight points to tie the game and were driving again early in the fourth quarter when the Wildcats came up with a defensive stand. Senior Ramone Simpson quickly broke a 57-yard touchdown run back the other way, the momentum shift needed to spark the road victory.

New Hanover won 11 games last fall, but Motsinger noted that the team led entering the fourth quarter in each of them. He struggled to come up with a similar performance in his eight years at the school.

"They showed so much character to overcome all that was thrown at them," Motsinger said. "I don't know that I've had a team that has found a way to get it done like that."

New Hanover (2-1) played far from perfect. Though Simpson finished with a career-high 289 yards of total offense and five touchdowns, he would have had nearly 400 if several long gains were not called back by penalty.

Those mistakes had the Wildcats going backward during the middle quarters, but Simpson got the offense rolling late with scores on three straight possessions.

New Hanover will have to cut down on the flags with Scotland County coming to Legion Stadium on Friday. After a bye and three straight road games, the Wildcats will finally play its home opener against the Fighting Scots, who are ranked No. 2 in the state among 4A teams in the latest Associated Press poll.

"It's still early in the season," Motsinger said. "We've just got to continue to focus on us and try to master our craft that way we can execute better. The effort is there, and now we need to pair it with the execution."

Seeking a spark

East Duplin hasn't scored in its past two games, but back-to-back shutout losses have provided coach Battle Holley with valuable teaching points.

Though the Panthers moved the ball, at times, in Friday's 25-0 loss to James Kenan, they lost three fumbles and hurt themselves with several false start penalties when they tried to mix up the snap count.

"I felt like they were better this week than they were last week," Holley said. "They're a good group of boys, and they're going to keep working and something good is going to happen for them."

Coming off a 17-0 loss to Wallace-Rose Hill, East Duplin (1-3) wanted to lean more heavily on its power running game on Friday, according to Holley. The Panthers still haven't scored since the second quarter of their loss to Clinton on Aug. 30.

Holley used more two tight end formations Friday, knowing James Kenan had a speed advantage. He said that approach plays to the team's strength, and the running game should get a lift going forward with the addition of 6-foot-5, 315-pound freshman Johnson Sloan from the junior varsity squad.

"We're going to be three yards in a cloud of dust, hopefully, from here on out," Holley said.

Take a break

Next week's area schedule is light with many teams set for a bye before conference play begins. Six of the eight Four-County Conference teams and five of eight Three Rivers Conference teams will get a break.

"I wish we didn't have it," said Wallace-Rose Hill coach Joey Price, whose team shutout Jones on Friday. He'd prefer the state make all endowment games during the opening week, and teams that decline could take a bye then, before finishing the season uninterrupted.

"We really should be playing only 10 [games]," Price said. "But I guess it's a good thing to get healed up, but if you're on a roll, it could work against ya."

Whiteville has that momentum after three straight wins, but coach Luke Little feels that after a strenuous non-conference slate his players have earned the chance to rest.

"This lets us get our legs back under us, get those bumps and bruises taken care of," he said.

Dan Spears contributed to this report.

Ahead & Behind

Week 4 Scoreboard

Wake Forest 33, Hoggard 23

New Hanover 35, Purnell Swett 20

Ashley 31, White Oak 24

South Columbus 44, West Brunswick 14

North Brunswick 47, South Brunswick 14

East Columbus 38, Trask 14

Topsail 14, Croatan 7

Marvin Ridge 70, Pender 6

Wallace-Rose Hill 52, Jones 0

Whiteville 16, Clinton 6

James Kenan 25, E. Duplin 0

Davidson Day 64, Harrells Christian 14

Sun Valley 37, East Bladen 14

St. Pauls 24, West Bladen 22

Week 5 Schedule

All games at 7:30 p.m.

Hoggard at Lumberton

Laney at New Bern

Scotland at New Hanover

Jacksonville at Topsail

West Brunswick at North Brunswick

South Brunswick at South Columbus

Union at Princeton

East Columbus at East Bladen

East Duplin at North Lenoir

South Robeson at Harrells

Off: Ashley, Wallace-Rose Hill, West Bladen, Trask, Pender, Clinton, Midway, Whiteville, Red Springs, St. Pauls, West Columbus, Fairmont, James Kenan