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‘Barons rally for win

GATESVILLE – For much of the game here Friday night, it seemed like the Gates County Red Barons were battling two opponents; the Currituck County Knights and themselves.

Despite fumbling the ball nine times and losing five, Gates County used a bruising rushing attack and a stingy defense to defeat Currituck County 28-14 on the Gates County High School Campus.

Currituck County got on the scoreboard first on a five-yard run by junior running back Derek Thomas. The point after attempt was no good and the score stood at 6-0 with 5:42 left in the first quarter. The scoring drive was set up when Gates County lost a fumble on its own 27-yard line.

After forcing a Currituck County punt late in the first quarter, Gates County running back Ralphael Eason made the first big play of a real big night by returning the punt to the Knights on yard line. An illegal block brought the ball back to the 25-yard line giving the Red Barons first and ten.

Facing a fourth and ten situation, Gates County quarterback Graylon Boone completed a 15-yard pass to Paul Jones giving the Red Barons first and goal from the five-yard line. On the first play of the second quarter, Eason rushed up the middle for a five-yard touchdown run, his first of three on the night. The point after attempt was not good and the score was tied, 6-6 with 11:40 remaining in the first half.

On the ensuing offensive series, Currituck County used a combination of tough runs and penalties to drive to the Gates County four-yard line. Facing fourth and two from the four, the Red Barons’ defense held and took over on downs. But the fumble bug bit Gates County again as they turned the ball over on their own thirty-yard line.

Both teams swapped fumbles over the next few offensive series until Currituck County scored late in the second quarter on a nine-yard run by junior quarterback Zack Beasley. The two-point conversion was good and it looked like Currituck would go into half-time with a 14-6 lead. However, a 33-yard pass completion from Boone to Harvey Bradley and a 13-yard scamper by Boone, but Gates County in scoring position seconds before halftime. With 14 seconds left in the half, Eason ran one-yard for the touchdown and Currituck led at the half, 14-12.

Gates County’s defense stiffened considerably and their running game wore Currituck down in the second half. On the first play of the half, quarterback Zack Beasley was injured and didn’t return to the game. On the same series, Gates County forced Currituck to punt and took over at their own 15-yard line.

On first and ten from the 15, Eason swept right and rumbled 85 yards untouched for the touchdown. The two-point attempt was good and Gates County took the lead for the first time of the night, 20-14 with 9:01 left in the third quarter.

Late in the quarter, Kent Reid of Gates County intercepted a Currituck County pass and ran 45-yards to put the Red Barons in business with first and goal from the eight-yard line. Sophomore running back Derrick Eason ran three yards on third down for the score. The two-point conversion was good on a pass from Boone to Paul Jones to give Gates County a 28-14 advantage.

An interception by Jeffery Hayer of Gates County late in the fourth quarter ended the chances of Currituck County of mounting a comeback. The game ended with Gates County winning 28-14.

Ralphael Eason used a workman-like approach and put up big numbers for Gates County, ending with 184 yards on 25 carries and three touchdowns. Derrick Eason pitched in 14 yards rushing and a touchdown for the Red Barons.