‘Sloppy’ Barons beat Currituck

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 15, 2003

GATESVILLE – Despite a sloppy, rain-soaked turf, Justin Powell and Fabian Hobbs combined for 345 rushing yards and four touchdowns to guide Gates County past Currituck, 26-14, here Saturday night in non-conference football action.

The game was postponed due to heavy downpours on Friday. That, coupled with a light mist on Saturday, left the GCHS field better suited to host a mug sling rather than a football game.

&uot;It was wet all over, but I thought the field held-up well,&uot; said Red Barons skipper Clark Harrell whose club finished the non-conference portion of its schedule with a 3-2 record; the two losses coming against 3-A powerhouses Manteo and Hertford County.

He continued, &uot;The field conditions didn’t seem to slow down my two backs and I thought the two kids from Currituck ran the ball extremely well. Just think of what it would have been like if we played this game on a dry field. Your pencil would have probably caught on fire keeping up with all those rushing yards.&uot;

Another reason Harrell wanted to get this game in as quickly as possible was the fact that the Four Rivers Conference season opens this Friday (Sept. 19). There, the Red Barons will host two-time defending conference champion Williamston in the league opener for both teams.

&uot;We need each and every second we can get in order to prepare for Williamston,&uot; stated the coach. &uot;They haven’t lost a conference game in two years. &uot;What we didn’t need was to push our game with Currituck ’til Monday. If that had happened, it would have left us with only three days to prepare for Williamston.&uot;

On Saturday, GCHS tuned-up for the Tigers by pounding the wet turf for 361 rushing yards. But those offensive numbers were overshadowed by a key defensive stand that dashed any hopes of a Currituck comeback.

Trailing 20-7 at halftime, Currituck gained a bit of steam early in the third quarter after Gates County came-up inches short on a fourth down gamble near midfield. Taking over at their own 49 yardline, the Knights used a key 20-yard scamper by quarterback Ricky Hewitt on a third down play that reached the GCHS 24. After a seven-yard run by Steve Donski, Currituck seemed poised to strike paydirt, but the Gates defense rose to the challenge. On back-to-back plays, GCHS defenders Torrey Nowell and Billy Lowe respectively dropped Derrick Thomas and Hewitt in the backfield for a combined minus five yards. That was followed by Raphael Eason batting away a Hewitt pass in the endzone on fourth down, thus killing Currituck’s momentum.

The Red Barons then sealed the win by marching 78 yards in 13 plays and increased their lead to 26-7 when Hobbs dived over the top for a two-yard touchdown with 7:40 left in the game. That monster drive, which ate seven minutes off the game clock, was highlighted by Powell’s 44-yard scamper, part of his game-high 211 rushing yards, and a key six-yard run by Hobbs on a fourth-and-four play. Hobbs finished with 144 yards on the ground.

Gates County streaked out to a quick 12-point lead by scoring on two of their first three possessions.

Taking the game’s opening kick-off, the ‘Barons drove 75 yards in 10 plays capped by Powell’s three-yard run. Powell was the workhorse on the drive, toting the pigskin six times for 54 yards.

Two possessions later, Powell again powered Gates to paydirt, this time taking only two plays after a Currituck punt to cover 60 yards. He rambled 46 yards on first down and then finished what he started with a 14-yard scamper to the endzone, upping the Gates lead to 12-0 by the 11:52 mark of the second quarter.

Behind the hard running of Donski and Thomas, the Knights answered with an eight-play, 64-yard scoring drive capped by Thomas’ two-yard run. Grant Verlack’s PAT kick trimmed the Gates lead to 12-7 with a shade over eight minutes left in the first half.

But that’s as close as Currituck could get as, sparked by William Watson’s 47-yard return of the ensuing kickoff, the ‘Barons struck paydirt five plays later when Hobbs busted up the middle and dashed 30 yards for the score. Coupled with Charles Eure’s conversion run, Gates led 20-7 at halftime.

Currituck closed out the scoring with 5:25 left in the game on Donski’s five-yard run and Verlack’s PAT.

The Knights, who fell to 1-4 overall, finished with 175 total yards led by Donski’s 69 rushing yards and another 51 on the ground by Thomas.