Rams stun Kinston 28-6 in first round

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KINSTON — History wasn’t on Greene Central’s side, but the Rams created it in a big way.

Buoyed by a strong running game and defense, Greene Central defeated Kinston 28-6 in the first round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2-A football playoffs. The Rams (8-4) had lost their final nine playoff games since a 2005 win over Pasquotank County and faced a Vikings team that hadn’t lost in the first round during its 10-year postseason streak and had beaten Greene Central in 10 of the last 11 meetings, including a 42-26 victory Sep. 29.

None of it mattered as Greene Central now prepares to face East Bladen in the second round.

“Our defense was big for us and once we made some plays on offense, it came together,” Greene Central coach Allen Wooten said after getting his first playoff victory.

Kinston (9-3) started the game between the 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference rivals by recovering a pooch kick and advanced past the Greene Central 30 on its initial two drives, but turnovers on downs ended them both. On the other side, the Rams went three-and-out on their initial two drives and registered one first down in the opening quarter, but the game remained scoreless.

Momentum shifted with 9:32 remaining in the second when Willie Edwards found a hole and broke outside for a 97-yard touchdown run to put Greene Central ahead 6-0. After forcing a three-and-out, the Rams scored on their next drive when senior quarterback Jackson Batchelor found Torrence Clark for a 19-yard touchdown on third-and-11 with 5:07 to go in the half. The Rams had 175 yards in the second quarter after 18 in the first to take a 14-0 lead into the break.

“I’ve got to give the credit to the O-line,” Edwards said. “The guys hit who they needed to and I found a crease.”

Kinston moved the ball throughout the game with 10 of its 13 drives in Greene Central territory, but three turnovers and 14 penalties for 93 yards heavily affected the Vikings. On the other end, Javon Edwards scored from 1 yard out with 9:25 to play and Taboris Bynum provided the exclamation point with a 28-yard interception return for a touchdown to make the score 28-0 with 2:51 remaining.

“As a senior, I just knew I had to make a play,” Bynum said after his two-interception effort. “It felt great being able to get this win and now we’ve got to focus on East Bladen.”

Kinston coach Ryan Gieselman said missed opportunities were the team’s downfall Friday.

“We had the extra possession (to start the game) and couldn’t score,” Gieselman said. “We moved the ball well, but couldn’t punch it in. Hats off to Greene Central for coming out and executing.”

The Vikings got on the board with a 60-yard pass from Kieren Hooker to Bryon Harvey with 2:37 remaining. Kinston’s Tahj Ramsey had a game-high 174 yards on 29 carries, with Greene Central’s Willie Edwards (12 carries, 117 yards) and Javon Edwards (12 carries, 99 yards) doing their part for the Rams.