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For a Beddingfield High varsity football team that was forced to insert its best cornerback in senior Travon Newsome as a fourth-string running back, the Bruins needed every last bit of grit and resolve in Friday night’s season opener with Southern Wayne.
Junior Corey Kent was happy to oblige and give first-year head coach Carl Smith a win in his maiden game as head coach of the Bruins.
With Southern Wayne driving to the Bruins’ 10-yard line after taking possession with 2 minutes, 30 seconds remaining, Kent snuffed out a jet sweep from the Saints on the game’s final play, making the tackle four yards from the end zone and preserving a tense 7-6 Beddingfield victory.
“We were ecstatic,” Smith said of the game’s final play. “The kids were ecstatic. It was very close. It was a slugfest — there was nothing pretty about it.
Beddingfield entered play down a pair of running backs after senior Jalil Hutcherson and junior Raekwon Batts were forced to miss the contest due to injuries suffered at a preseason scrimmage againt Greene Central.
Batts suffered a head injury, while Hutcherson’s shoulder maladies were initially thought not to be serious enough to miss action. However, Hutcherson did not play against the 3-A Saints of the 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference.
In stepped senior Jah’quez Artis, who rumbled 30 yards for Beddingfield’s only touchdown midway through the first quarter. However, Artis was banged up in the second quarter and had to leave the game, pushing the tailback duties in the power-I to Newsome.
Southern Wayne made it 7-6 before the conclusion of the first quarter, only to have Beddingfield block the PAT — which would prove pivotal.
Beddingfield was driving in the Southern Wayne redzone late in the fourth quarter, but turned it over on downs with 2:30 to play.
Defensively, the Bruins were bolstered by juniors Jerrell and Zachary Jones along the line, as well as senior Malik Davis.
In Batts’ absence, Smith hailed the performance of sophomore Keydrin Parker, who stepped in at middle linebacker and played both ways. Seniors William Wilder and Davallice Rasberry came away with interceptions.
Smith said that the status of his injured backfield is to be determined, but offered a “soft guess” that Hutcherson, Batts and Artis would be available at 3-A Northern Nash on Thursday.