BLADENBORO – Senior quarterback Tyre Boykin rushed for 207 yards and 3 touchdowns and threw for another TD to lead West Bladen’s Knights to their first victory of the season 42-22 over East Columbus Friday night in Three Rivers Conference football action.
It was also the first victory of Coach Jon Sherman’s initial season at the helm of the Knights. “I was proud of what we did tonight,” said Sherman. “I am excited for the kids. They really had to fight hard.
The Gators jumped in front early driving 71 yards in 10 plays to take an 8-0 lead. Quarterback Fisher Reaves sneaked 2 yards for the touchdown, and Curtis Watson ran for the 2-point conversion and an 8-0 lead.
Cory Jacobs recovered the Gators onside kick-off, and the visitors covered 43 yards in 7 plays to boost the lead to 16-0. Reaves dove over from the one yard line, and Monzelle Campbell scored the 2-point conversion.
Sophomore Javonta Matthews snagged the next Gator onside kick to give the Knights possession for the first time in the game at the 2-minute mark. Senior Tra’shawn Ballard pounded the middle 3 times for 23 yards before leaving with an injury.
On 4th down from the Gator 42-yard line, Boykin charged into the middle of the line for 9 yards, but lost the ball. Sophomore Damarius Robinson scooped up the fumble and dashed 33 yards around the left side for a Knight touchdown. Boykin bolted around the right side for the 2-point conversion to close the gap to 16-8 10 seconds before the quarter break.
The Gators then drove 43 yards to the Knight 22, but on 4th-and-3, sophomore Zaidarius McKenzie and Robinson threw the Gators’ Campbell for a 5-yard loss.
On the next East possession, Campbell popped through the line on a 56-yard touchdown run. The conversion failed, and the Gators led 22-8 with 6:08 on the first-half clock.
Back came the Knights with a 62-yard, 7-play drive. Boykin broke free on runs of 13, 6 and 16 yards, before dodging several tacklers on a 17-yard touchdown jaunt. Boykin darted into the end zone for the conversion that pulled West to within 22-16 with 2:14 left in the half.
“We really showed our resilience and battled back,” said Sherman. “Last week we would have folded the tents after those 2 early touchdowns, but tonight we kept fighting and didn’t quit.”
Senior Andrew ‘AJ’ Brown recovered a Gator fumble at the East Columbus 33-yard line to give the Knights another scoring chance before halftime, but a holding penalty and a dropped pass ended the threat.
Junior Jaheim Gilbert grabbed the Gators onside kick that began the second half at the Knight 45. Robinson picked up 10 yards, before Boykin fired a pass to Brown who skirted the right sideline to complete the 45-yard scoring play. Boykin dashed around right end for the conversion that edged West Bladen ahead 24-22 47 seconds into the second half.
The Gators picked up a pair of first downs, before a 4th-down pass was intercepted by Knight senior Davian Willis-Howard at the West Bladen 18-yard line.
Two plays later Boykin scooted around left end and outran the defense on a 79-yard touchdown gallop. The conversion run failed, but the Knights held a 30-22 lead at the 4:32 mark.
On the Gators next play, Knight junior Roberto Muniz-Villta pounced on an East fumble at the Gator 34-yard line. Robinson powered through the line for gains of 14 and 10 yards, before Boykin scampered around right end on a 10-yard touchdown run that grew the Knight lead to 36-22 with 2:40 on the clock.
West Bladen’s McKenzie dropped Reaves for an 11-yard loss that stymied the next Gator possession. The Knights took over at the East 34 and covered that distance in 6 plays. Boykin charged around the right side for a 25-yard gain. Robinson plowed into the end zone from 5 yards out to pad the lead to 42-22 with 7:58 remaining.
The Knights rushed for 375 yards and finished with 420 total yards. Robinson carried 13 times for 108 yards and 2 touchdowns. ‘He really stepped up for us when Tra’shawn went down,” said Sherman. “Our offense played the kind of game that I really like, using the heavy package. I was happy with our execution.”
The Knight defense gave up 285 yards, but held the Gators to only 79 yards and no points in the second half while forcing 3 of their 4 takeaways after intermission.
“The defense really turned it around in the second half,” said Coach Sherman. “The coaches went in at halftime and made some great adjustments.”
Campbell supplied the bulk of the Gator offense rushing 23 times for 177 yards and a touchdown.
Coach Sherman also shared that the non-conference rematch with Red Springs that had been scheduled for Tuesday has been cancelled. The Knights will have an open date next week before hosting Whiteville on Oct. 11.