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Football: East Bladen 21, Red Springs 20

Photos by Kenneth Armstrong

ELIZABETHTOWN – Sophmore quarterback Zach Meares kept the ball and circled right end on a 13-yard touchdown run with 17 seconds left to play that lifted East Bladen to a 21-20 Three Rivers Conference football victory over Red Springs.

“Meares made a heck of a play to get in for the touchdown,” said Eagle Coach Robby Priest. Junior Gabe Barber nailed the winning extra point kick. Barber made all three of his conversion kicks in the game.

The visiting Red Devils took the opening kick-off and ground out a touchdown drive that consumed 7:02 off the clock. Junior quarterback Denym McKeithan scampered 16 yards for the touchdown, and Shyheem McCall added the extra point for a 7-0 lead.

Back came the Eagles as senior Eric Chancy dashed into the end zone from 5 yards out to pull East Bladen even 7-7 with 9:57 left in the first half after Barber split the uprights with his extra point kick.

Red Springs responded with a 76-yard, 13-play drive that put the visitors back on top. McKeithan sneaked into the end zone from a yard out for the touchdown and McCall booted the conversion for a 14-7 Red Devil lead 4:25 before halftime.

The Red Devils piled up over 200 yards of offense and 11 first downs in the first half as they built the halftime lead.

With junior Lawson Hester and Chancy shouldering most of the workload, the Eagles ground out a 61-yard, 13-play scoring drive to open the second half and tie the score. Hester powered into the end zone from a yard out for the touchdown, and Barber kicked the tying extra point with 5:52 left in the quarter.

The Red Devils bounced back with a scoring drive to take a 20-14 lead on another McKeithan one-yard touchdown run ten seconds before the quarter break.

A half the distance to the goal penalty on the conversion attempt enticed Red Springs into going for 2 points, but the Eagle defense stopped Coty Locklear’s conversion run short of the goalline.

That failed conversion run proved to be costly for the Red Devils as the Eagles mounted a 65-yard touchdown drive that Meares capped with his winning touchdown run.

Hester carried 20 times for 134 yards and a touchdown to lead the Eagle ground attack. Chancy finished with 91 yards and a touchdown on a whopping 27 carries. “Those two are getting better,” said Coach Priest.

East Bladen finished with 241 yards rushing and 249 yards of total offense. The Eagles converted 5 of 6 fourth down attempts to keep drives alive.

The Red Devils matched the Eagles in time of possession and racked up 262 yards rushing and 334 yards of total offense.

“Red Springs is really good,” said Coach Priest. “Red Springs is a great team with bad luck.”

McKeithan rushed for 54 yards and 3 touchdowns and completed 4 of 10 passes for 72 yards. Coty Locklear gained 82 yards on 19 rushes, and Tony Locklear ran 12 times for 68 yards.

The Eagles remained tied for the top spot in the TRC with South Columbus. Both teams sport perfect 6-0 league records. East Bladen is 7-1 overall. East Bladen will host South Robeson Friday night in their final home game.

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