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NCHSAA Class 2A Football Play-offs: Wilson Beddingfield 14, East Bladen 12

ELIZABETHTOWN – Junior Jalil Hutcherson rushed for 167 yards and made a key interception to lead Wilson Beddingfield to a 14-12 victory over East Bladen Friday night in the opening round of the NCHSAA Class 2A football play-offs.

The Bruins led 14-12 at the half and limited the Eagles to only 20 plays and two scoring chances after halftime. Beddingfield piled up 298 yards of offense – 246 rushing – in the game and held a 29-19 minute advantage in time of possession.

Beddingfield opened the game with an 83-yard scoring drive in seven plays. Hutcherson darted 27 yards on the game’s second play, and quarterback Zion Hinnant gained 20 yards on a keeper. Sophmore Raekwon Batts powered 9 yards for the touchdown, but the conversion kick failed and the Bruins led 6-0.

Hutcherson sped 37 yards on the first play of Beddingfield’s next possession, but Eagle Coach Robby Priest called a time-out and refocused his defense. The next 4 Bruin plays netted only 8 yards, and East took over on downs at the 12 yardline.

The Eagles responded with an 88-yard, 11-play drive. Sophmore quarterback Zach Meares connected with senior Shy Pone for a 20-yard gain. Junior Lawson Hester cut back against the grain and dashed 16 yards. Meares then threw to Pone in the left flat who stepped out of a tackle and scooted 16 yards.

Senior Eric Chancy bolted through the right side for 16 yards, before fullback Kasey Price banged through the middle on an 8-yard touchdown run. The conversion kick was wide left and the score was tied 6-6 with 2:45 left in the period.

After an exchange of punts, the Bruins embarked on an 80-yard, 11-play drive. Hutcherson popped free for a 25-yard gain. Two plays later the Eagle defense sacked Hinnant for a 6-yard loss, but a face mask penalty moved Beddingfield to the East 43 yardline.

A leaping catch by junior William Wilder of a Hinnant pass produced a 22-yard pick-up. Hinnant rambled 3 yards on a keeper for the touchdown then tossed a 2-point conversion pass to sophmore Devon Rossi to stretch the Bruin lead to 14-6 with 3:43 remaining in the half.

Pone returned the Bruin kick-off 24 yards, and Chancy burst through the line on the next play and sprinted 61 yards to the Beddingfield 8 yardline. After losing 7 yards on a quarterback sack, Meares fired a 14-yard touchdown pass to Pone on a fourth down play. A fumbled snap stopped the conversion attempt and kept the margin at 14-12.

Beddingfield covered 42 yards on their initial possession of the second half. A 20-yard pass from Hinnant to Hutcherson keyed the drive, but Eagle senior Jordan Payton sacked Hinnant for a 12-yard loss on fourth down to end the drive.

Price charged through the line on the next play for a 28-yard gain to the Bruin 37 yardline, but two plays later Bruin freshman Antrell Lucas recovered an Eagle fumble at the 27 yardline to end the threat

Four plays later Eagle senior Tayvon Townsend recovered a Bruin fumble at the Eagle 46 yardline. East Bladen advanced to the Beddingfield 39 yardline, but Hutcherson intercepted a pass at the 31 yardline to stop the threat.

The Bruins answered with a 41-yard drive that reached the Eagle 26 yardline, but Townsend threw the Bruin quarterback for an 11-yard loss that turned the ball over on downs.

The Eagles had two possessions in the final 5:21 but couldn’t pick up a first down. Meares was lost to an injury on the first play of their final possession, and Pone had to take over at quarterback for the final 3 plays.

The East Bladen offense was also hampered by the loss of Hester – the team’s second leading rusher – to an ankle injury on the final play of the first quarter.

“It is hard to bounce back after a loss,” said Eagle Coach Robby Priest. “But they are a good team – big and physical. They outmanned us, and they had a good game plan. We had our chances just didn’t take advantage of them.”

Chancy rushed 14 times for 88 yards to lead the Eagle offense. Price picked up 38 yards on four carries, and Hester gained 32 yards on 6 runs before suffering the injury. Meares completed 3 of 7 passes for 50 yards. Pone had all 3 receptions for 50 yards.

“I am proud of my guys. They had a good year,” said Priest. “We kind of overachieved, but we will get back to work and start rebuilding. I feel bad for the seniors.”

On a brighter note, Coach Priest shared that he received a phone call from his doctor Wednesday morning. “At 9:07 Dr. Britt called and told me that I was cancer-free. I am really thankful for that, and for all the prayers and support I received.”

The Eagles finish their season with a 9-3 record, while Beddingfield, now 9-2, travels to top-seeded Elizabeth City Northeastern next week.

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