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CERRO GORDO – Malique McDowell and James Moore combined to score seven touchdowns and run for 319 yards Friday night as the West Bladen Knights rolled to their second win, racing past the West Columbus Vikings 53-24 in a non-conference high school football game.

McDowell, a senior, gained 178 yards on 18 carries and scored on runs of 5, 52, 18 and 4.

Moore, a junior, had touchdown runs of 12, 25 and 3 yards in a 16-carry, 141-yard performance.

De’quan Lennon added 87 yards on seven carries before leaving with an injury, while B.J. Drake ran for 51 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The Knights had 475 yards rushing.

“The offensive line did a great job,” West Bladen coach Russell Dove said. “We’re a sweep team. When you take the sweeps away, we’ve got to be able to run the ball inside, and we did that. Those guys pounded it and ran the ball inside and controlled the clock a little bit. Just a great job by those two running backs.”

Defensively, the Knights allowed a pair of long touchdown runs by West Columbus speedster Frederick Evans, and a touchdown pass by quarterback Johnny McFadden, who completed 11 passes for 135 yards.

“(West Columbus) has some kids (Evans and McFadden) that if they get you in space, they can make you look silly,” Dove said. “Our goal was to try to hold them to 14. We gave up 24, but they did what we needed them to do.

“Our defense has played so much better. We’re not as big as we were last year. We’re playing with some kids who are hustling and are fast guys, and speed guys, and they’re doing a heck of a job.”

West Bladen scored on its first three possessions and scored 21 points in the first quarter for the second consecutive week. After a scoreless second quarter, the Knights scored on five of their six possession in the second half.

“We came out really strong. We seem to always come out prepared and really strong,” Dove said. “We always kind of fizzle in the second quarter. We’ve got to handle that to be a better team. We kind of got stymied there. We were ahead 21-8 and driving the ball down the field, then got two penalties and fumbled, and that put them right back in the game at 21-16 (at half).”

“We came out in the second half and our guys took it right down the field and scored,” Dove said. “The offense did what it had to do, then the defense stepped up a lot more in the second half and limited what “they” could do. We had a much better second half, and always happy with the outcome.”

After forcing West Columbus to punt on its first possession, the Knights needed only seven plays to cover 89 yards for their first touchdown. Moore had runs of 29 and 11 yards on the drive before sweeping around the right end for the final 12 yards for the score. Ray Jones’ conversion kick made it 7-0 with 7:01 left in the first quarter.

However, the Vikings quickly gained the lead when Evans slashed off the right side and bolted 55 yards for a touchdown. Evans also ran the two-point conversion that gave West Columbus an 8-7 lead with 6:03 remaining in the first quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff, McDowell returned it to the West Columbus 24, where Moore scored on the first play from scrimmage. The conversion run failed and West Bladen had a 13-8 lead.

West Columbus had a bad snap on a punt attempt on its next possession, which allowed West Bladen to start its drive from the Vikings’ 5 yard line. McDowell went up the middle on the first play for the score. The Knights had a holding penalty which called back a successful two-point conversion, but Lennon ran 23 yards for the conversion. That gave West Bladen a 21-8 lead with 4:23 left in the first quarter.

A fumble recovery set up West Columbus for its second touchdown, a seven yard pass from McFadden to Tommy Bryant. Evans ran the conversion that pulled the Vikings within 21-16 at half.

West Bladen pulled away in the second half, scoring two touchdowns in the third quarter and three TDs in the fourth.

West Bladen, 2-0, is scheduled to host Whiteville on Friday in another non-conference game.

Scoring summary

West Bladen    21 – 0 – 14 – 18 — 53
West Columbus   8 – 8 –  8 –  0 — 24

WB – James Moore 12 run (Ray Jones kick)
WC – Frederick Evans 55 run (Evans run)
WB – Moore 25 run (run failed)
WB – Malique McDowell 5 run (De’quan Lennon run)
WC – Tommy Bryant 7 pass from Johnny McFadden (Evans run)
WB – McDowell 52 run (Stefon McDonald pass to Hunter Prevatte)
WB – McDowell 18 run (kick failed)
WC – Evans 62 run (McFadden pass to Bryant)
WB – Moore 3 run (kick blocked)
WB – McDowell 4 run (run failed)
WB – B.J. Drake 3 run (run failed)

Rushing: WB – McDowell 18-178, Moore 16-141, Lennon 7-87, McDonald 2-18, Drake 8-51, Grant 1-0. WC – Evans 19-71, McFadden 20-39, Marvin Edge 9-10.

Passing: WB – McDonald 0-3-0, 0. WC – McFadden 11-19-0, 135.

Receiving: WB – None. WC – Evans 6-93, Brad Wilder 2-15, Bryant 2-19, Edge 1-9.

Records: West Bladen 2-0, West Columbus 0-2.

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