Roundup: First win over New Bern keeps Falcons in title hunt

NEW BERN — South Central added to a season of firsts on Friday night and took one step closer to playing for a conference championship

The big-play Falcons, led by the trio of quarterback Dexter McDuffie, running back Nazir Monroe-Smith and receiver Emannuel Lewis, erupted for 26 second-half points and pulled away for a 40-13 win over New Bern in Eastern Carolina 3/A/4-A football — their first over the Bears in school history.

South Central (8-1, 4-0 ECC), which won its sixth in a row, also got its first win over J.H. Rose earlier this season. The Falcons travel to Charles B. Aycock next Friday then close the regular season at home against D.H. Conley in what will likely determine the league champion.

McDuffie passed for 270 yards and three touchdowns — all to Lewis — and also ran for a score to help the Falcons deal the Bears (4-6, 3-2) their second straight league loss. Lewis had five catches for  224 yards, including a 95-yard dagger. Monroe-Smith rushed for 186 yards.

South Central took a 14-0 lead in the first half on a 56-yard pass from McDuffie to Lewis and a 16-yard run by Monroe-Smith.

A 17-yard run by quarterback Maleik Patrick drew New Bern within 14-7 in the third period, but Lewis and McDuffie answered with scoring passes of 21 yards late in the third quarter and 95 yards early in the fourth for a 27-7 lead.

McDuffie’s 1-yard run expanded the lead to 33-7. A 40-yard dash by Monroe-Smith and Matthew Tawney’s PAT kick put the Falcons up 40-7.

New Bern’s Dontrayal Hill capped the scoring with a 70-yard run.

North Lenoir 22, Ayden-Grifton 18

LA GRANGE — Ayden-Grifton’s late-game magic finally came to an end.

After last-minute, game-winning touchdowns on consecutive weeks, the Chargers came up short on Friday and fell 22-18 to host North Lenoir and out of first place in the Eastern Carolina 2-A Conference football standings.

A touchdown catch by Quwaun Barnes with 4:28 to play put the Hawks (4-5, 1-3 ECC) in front for good. Ayden-Grifton, which rallied for wins over Washington and Kinston the previous two weeks, could not answer.

Quarterback Blake McLawhorn gave the Chargers (6-3, 3-1) a 6-0 lead. The Hawks answered to go ahead 7-6 on a 5-yard run by Devonte Gardner run following a 75-yard reception by Michael Pollard.

Ayden-Grifton took a 12-7 lead with 4:08 left in the half on a touchdown run by Jackson Upchurch, but again the Chargers failed on the PAT. The Chargers ended the half at the North Lenoir 5-yard line.

A 93-yard dash by Gardner and two-point conversion gave North Lenoir a brief 15-12 lead, which Michael Webb erased with a the Chargers; fourth kickoff return for a score this season. A blocked PAT kick left Ayden-Grifton ahead 18-15 with 8:47 to play.

A fake punt set up the Hawks’ winning score. North Lenoir came up with an interception with 2:06 to play but had to punt then sacked McLawhorn to seal it.

The Chargers travel to first-place West Craven (5-4, 4-0) next Friday. The Eagles slipped past Kinston 25-23 on Friday.

SouthWest Edgecombe 21, Farmville central 7

FARMVILLE — SouthWest Edgecombe took control with its power running game and churned out 348 yards on the ground on Friday night in a 21-7 Eastern Plains 2-A Conference football win over host Farmville Central.

Junior Dashon Bandy rushed for 172 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, and senior Alex Foster added 114 yards and a score on 20 carries for the Cougars (8-1, 3-0), who won their fifth straight since a loss to Tarboro and took over sole possession of first in the EPC. Bandy scored on a 50-yard run on SouthWest’s third play, and Foster scored from 5 yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter. Senior Dillon Garbrandt booted a pair of first-half field goals.

The SouthWest defense came up with three sacks, an interception by junior Jayden Lewis and a fumble recovery by sophomore Kedar Darden to stymie the Jaguars (4-5, 1-2). Qunitaye Reid scored Farmville Central’s lone touchdown on a 4-yard pass from Jay Leavelle after the Cougars opened up a 21-0 lead.

The Jaguars travel to Beddingfield (5-4, 2-1) next Friday.

North Johnston 25, North Pitt 12

BETHEL — North Pitt dropped its eighth straight game since a season-opening win, falling 25-12 to visiting North Johnston in Eastern Plains 2-A Conference football on Friday.

Junior quarterback Izarion Blango accounted for both North Pitt touchdowns, including a 58-yard run for a 6-0 lead in the first quarter. North Johnston led 25-6 before Blango added his second TD.

North Pitt (1-8, 0-3 EPC) hosts Nash Central next Friday. North Johnston improved to 5-4 overall and 1-2 in the league.

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