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If the Beddingfield High varsity football team is chasing a new identity, it issued a message on a spectacular homecoming Friday night before the largest turnout of the season.
The Bruins, known for years and years for their wide-open, run-and-shoot style, simply smashed 2-A Eastern Plains Conference foe Nash Central 25-7 with old-fashioned, smash-mouth football.
In dominating tempo and time of possession, Beddingfield, the pick to win the conference in the preseason coaches poll, kept pace with SouthWest Edgecombe for the conference lead at 3-0 and sealed a winning season with a 7-1 worksheet.
Victimized by a workmanlike Beddingfield team that committed just one turnover and was flagged for only one penalty, Nash Central tumbled to 0-3 and 2-6, respectively.
Bruins players and coaches endorsed the smash-mouth style.
“It has been more of a mentality change for our kids,” Ward declared. “We put up on the wall that ‘tough kids win.’ We are trying to get bigger, stronger and faster.”
Added defensive coach Dedrick Peyton: “We love it. It’s getting us SouthWest Edgecombe and Farmville Central ready; they are going to come at us between the tackles. It’s getting us playoff ready.”
Beddingfield rolled up 234 of its 286 yards of total offense on the ground behind the running of senior Zach Adams, sophomore Raekwon Batts, the signature of smash-mouth football; and junior Jalil Hutcherson. Directing the offense was senior Zion Hinnant, who returned under center with junior Avery Huggins, last week’s starter, suspended.
A defense anchored by senior Tacoby Coleman, senior Lamorris Speight, junior Darryl Malachi, Adams, senior Damon Kardesoglu and Messiah Woodard, limited the Bulldogs to 35 yards total offense the first half and to 146 yards for the game. The Bruins sacked quarterback Jaylan Williams on six occasions.
“Great!” Adams clamored of the Bruins performance. “I’m proud of it. I feel like I played my best, but I know I can do better.”
Kardesoglu’s blocked put set up Beddingfield’s first TD. On the first scrimmage play, Adams darted 24 yards for the TD and junior Bryan Rico kicked the extra point.
The Briuns, in the second quarter, resorted to Hinnant’s passing to march from their 5-yard line to the Nash Central 17 — where Rico drilled in a 33-yard field goal, his first of the season and longest of his career.
Beddingfield launched the second half with Adams returning the kickoff to the Bulldogs’ 40-yard line. Batts was the workhorse, plowing the last five yards and adding the two-point conversion.
Limited to one first down the opening half, Nash Central retaliated with its only scoring march of 58 yards. Senior Byron Hawkins, on a counter play, zipped 32 yards for the TD and junior Landon Alford kicked the extra point.
“The defense played decent,” Peyton assessed. “We had one blown assignment on the (TD) counter; we knew it was coming.”
The Bulldogs would threaten no more and the Bruins’ offense polished off the evening’s work with a 68-yard TD drive. Batts, Hutcherson and Adams shared the work, with Hinnant finding the end zone on a 12-yard keeper the first play of the final quarter. Rico added the PAT.
The Bruins fumbled away a final threat to Nash Central’s Israel Brown and the homecoming show was about to conclude in a scant 2 hours, 4 minutes.
Ward hailed the win as “satisfying,” adding: “It takes a bit of the pressure off.”