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ELIZABETHTOWN – East Bladen’s Eagles drove 98 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, then junior Willie Battle intercepted a pass with 38 seconds left to clinch a 32-27 non-conference football victory over West Carteret Friday night.

The Eagles trailed 27-24 when a Patriot punt was downed at the East Bladen 2 yard line. Senior Sherman Monroe ignited the winning drive with an 11-yard run and later added runs of 5, 11 and 7 yards. Senior Corey Ballard reeled off runs of 7, 4, 3, 15 and 8 yards during the march.

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Photos by Kenneth Armstrong

Sophomore Masion Brooks pounded the middle for gains of 9 and 6 yards then blasted through the line and scored standing up on an 11-yard burst. Ballard dove into the end zone for the 2-point conversion to put the Eagles on top 32-27 with 4:09 on the clock. The winning drive took 7 minutes off the clock and consumed 16 plays.

West Carteret’s star quarterback Jamarion Montford connected with Bryan Garner on passes of 18 and 9 yards, then a pass interference penalty moved the ball to the East Bladen 25 yard line. On 3rd down Battle picked off Montford’s pass at the 10 yard line to seal the win.

Monroe led the Eagle runners carrying 17 times for 180 yards and a touchdown. Ballard was the workhorse gaining 137 yards on 22 attempts. Ballard ran for a touchdown and a conversion. Masion Brooks only carried the ball 5 times but gained 33 yards and scored the decisive touchdown.

The Eagles piled up 348 yards rushing and held a 414- 288 advantage in total yards. Senior Javius Brooks completed 3 of 5 passes for 66 yards and a touchdown for East. Senior Nazire Smith had a 43-yard touchdown reception.

“Sherman, Corey and Masion all ran the ball hard,” said Eagle Coach Robby Priest. “Javius did a much better job tonight than in the first game.”

The Patriots scored on their first 3 possessions and built a 20-6 lead 1:47 before halftime. But Monroe popped free for 16 yards, and Ballard netted 7 yards then picked up 10 more yards on a hook-and-ladder with a lateral from Nazire Smith.

Three plays later Nazire Smith out-battled a Patriot defender to catch a Javius Brooks pass then pulled away and raced to the end zone to complete a 43-yard touchdown pass play that trimmed the lead to 20-12 ten seconds before halftime. The Eagles had covered 80 yards in 8 plays and in 1:37 minutes.

East Bladen began the 2nd half with an 8-play, 64-yard touchdown drive. Monroe carried 4 times for 20 yards, and Ballard netted 29 yards on 4 attempts. Ballard powered off the left side from 2 yards out for the touchdown that whittled the margin to 20-18.

Montford runs of 16 and 14 yards keyed a Patriot march to the Eagle 6 yard line, but Battle recovered a West Carteret fumble to halt the drive at the 3 yard line. On the next play the Eagles fumbled it right back at the 9 yard line.

Montford bulled into the end zone on a 3-yard TD run, and Brock Tatalovich booted his 3rd extra point of the night to put West Carteret up 27-18 at the 3:39 mark.

On the 1st play from scrimmage after the kickoff, Monroe barreled through a pair of tacklers on the right side and sprinted 56 yards for an Eagle touchdown that trimmed the margin to 27-24.

The Eagle defense limited the Patriot offense to only 113 yards in the 2nd half and stopped them on every possession except for the 9-yard scoring drive after the fumble. “Coach Terry Smith made some defensive adjustments at halftime that worked for us,” said Coach Priest.

Battle sparked the defense with 2 pass interceptions and a fumble recovery.

Montford completed 12 of 20 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 85 yards and 2 touchdowns to total 221 yards of offense in the game. Garner had 7 catches for 61 yards.

Shane Graves outreached a shorter defender to snatch an 11-yard touchdown pass from Montford that completed a 63-yard, 13-play drive and put the visitors up 7-0 on their initial possession. Montford passed for 31 yards and ran for 29 more on the drive.

The Eagles answered with a 63-yard, 11-play drive of their own. Monroe carried 4 times for 26 yards, and Masion Brooks hauled in a pass from his brother Javius for a 13-yard gain. Raymond Autry banged into the end zone from a yard out to slice the West lead to 7-6.

Back came the Patriots with a 58-yard, 8-play march. Montford rushed for 31 of those yards and flipped an 11-yard pass to Garner. Montford spun through a host of tacklers on a 9-yard TD run as the lead grew to 14-6.

East Bladen advanced 39 yards on their next possession but a holding penalty and a pair of fumbled snaps halted the drive at the West Carteret 37.

Five plays later the visitors had tacked on another touchdown. Montford connected with Justice Dadeel on passes of 33 and 22 yards, before Josh Mason scored the touchdown from a yard out.

The Eagles, now 1-1, will travel to Whiteville Friday for a 7:30 game.

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