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Football: East Bladen 42, Midway 0

ELIZABETHTOWN – Senior Ethan Hines piled up 298 yards of total offense and scored 4 touchdowns to lead East Bladen to a 42-0 victory over Midway Friday night in the Four County Conference football opener for both schools.

Hines rushed for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns on 16 carries, caught a 44-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Quinton Bedsole and returned a fumble 81 yards for another touchdown.

“He was the man tonight,” said Eagle Coach Robby Priest. With Ethan Hines leading the way the Eagles amassed 340 rushing yards and 44 passing, but it was the defense that drew extra praise from Priest.

The Eagles limited Midway to 82 total yards -35 rushing and 47 passing – and forced 4 Raider turnovers – 2 pass interceptions and 2 fumbles.

“We changed up some things on defense, and it looked good tonight,” said Coach Priest. “I was proud of the shutout. We haven’t had one of those in awhile.”

The Raiders gambled on fourth down on their first possession of the game, but Eagle sophmore Adonis Avery picked off punter Brian Lucas’ pass and returned the ball 4 yards to the East Bladen 47 yardline.

The Eagles covered the 53 yards in 5 plays with Ethan Hines breaking loose around the left side on the counter-play and racing 41 yards for the touchdown. Sophmore Pierce Melvin booted the first of his six extra points in the game. Melvin was a perfect 6-6 on conversion attempts.

The Eagle defense forced another 3-and-out, and Ethan Hines popped free again on a 32-yard burst to the Raider 25. However the drive bogged down, and Midway’s Shaquille Bailey scooped up a fourth down fumble to end the threat.

After another Raider punt, the Eagles mounted an 85-yard, 11-play scoring drive. Junior Xavier Wooten ignited the drive with runs of 9, 7 and 5 yards. Ethan Hines bolted 21 yards on another counter-play.

On fourth down at the Raider 44, Bedsole connected with Hines who was streaking down the right side and hauled in the 44-yard TD pass. Melvin tacked on the conversion for a 14-0 lead 5:25 before halftime.

Midway picked up one first down on an 18-yard pass from Austin Raynor to Logan Rogers, but the Eagles dug in and stopped the Raiders on downs at the East 34.

The Eagles moved 66 yards in just 6 plays. Ethan Hines darted 16 yards to start the drive. On the next play, Eian Hines, Ethan’s twin brother, scooped up a lateral pass and sprinted 32 yards to the Raider 18.

East Bladen powered the ball into the end zone from there as Ethan Hines gained 6 yards, junior Xavia McDowell bulled 6 yards up the middle and Ethan Hines pounded the left side for 6 more yards and the touchdown. Melvin nailed the point-after for a 21-0 East lead 1:05 before halftime.

Midway’s Carsse Lucas intercepted an Eagle pass to end the first East Bladen possession of the second half. The Raiders drove 37 yards, before Ethan Hines ripped the ball away from Sha’king Warren and flew 81 yards down the right sideline for the fumble return touchdown. Melvin again converted the kick for a 28-0 lead with 6:53 left in the third quarter.

On the Raiders’ next play, Eagle senior Kyle Tatum intercepted a pass to give East Bladen possession at midfield. Ten plays later the Eagles were in the end zone. Ethan Hines galloped 18 yards, and Wooten carried 4 times for 17 yards. Junior Bernard Robinson skirted the right side on the one-yard TD run. Melvin split the uprights again for a 35-0 lead with 50 seconds left in the period.

The Eagles advanced 70 yards in 6 plays on their next possession. Sophmore James Higgins bolted 31 yards to the Raider 20 yardline. Robinson picked up 7 yards, and Higgins charged ahead for 9 more. However a fumble into the end zone was recovered by the Raiders for a touch-back.

Two plays later Higgins regained possession for the Eagles with a fumble recovery at the Midway 19 yardline. Higgins bounced off several defenders on a 13-yard run, before junior Messiah Leach capped the drive with a 5-yard run followed by a one-yard touchdown carry. Melvin added the extra point with 6:35 left to play that started the mercy-rule continuous clock.

Higgins finished with 55 yards rushing on 4 attempts. Wooten followed with 49 yards on 13 carries, and Robinson netted 38 yards on 10 rushes.  The Eagles had 19 first downs while holding Midway to only 4 first downs.

The Eagles, now 3-2 overall, will host unbeaten Clinton, the No. 3 Class 2A team in the state, Friday at 7 p.m.

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