East outlasts Gates County

Published 2:25 pm Monday, September 26, 2011

GATESVILLE – They usually say, ‘Quiet, Men at Work’.

But the George Privott-led construction of a winner at Northampton-East is getting louder – and maybe a bit noisy.

Friday night the Rams seized control of the 1-A Tar-Roanoke Conference football race by roughing up defending league champ, Gates County, on the Red Barons’ home field.

That field was a muddy and rain-soaked turf which helped account for the 10 first-half turnovers by both clubs, seven coming in the second quarter alone.

The 36-32 win for East left them at 2-0 in the conference; and after a win over Northampton-West two weeks ago, they had their first two-game win streak in nearly a year.

Their record is now 2-3 while Gates falls to 1-1 in the league and 3-3 overall.

Quarterback Evans Grant was the workhorse for the Rams, accounting for four touchdowns.  He passed for two scores going 10-for-16 for 130 yards.  He also ran for two more touchdowns en route to 52 total yards on the ground.

Brian Lassiter had the other touchdown for East on 80 yards rushing.

Gates County’s DaShawn Stokley led all rushers with 164 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  Logan Peterson and Andrew Wiggins had the other two scores for the Red Barons.

“We knew coming over here it was going to be a tough fight”, said Privott. “We know they like to get in the wishbone and just pound it and pound it.”

“It’s just that tonight we were more physical and outlasted them with our speed,” he added.

The speedy Rams were more like gazelles on their opening drive of the ball game. Both teams pooch kicked on every kickoff because of the sloppy surface which made for a short field on most drives.

East opened by going 56 yards on five plays and ended the scoring run with a 46-yard pass play from Grant to Lassiter. The junior speedster managed to wiggle from the grasp of several Red Baron defenders on his way to the end zone and afterward Grant’s run for two made it 8-0.

That score held through the entire quarter as Gates had a pair of turnovers on a couple of lost fumbles while East coughed it up once as well.

Gates scored on their first drive of the second quarter after recovering East’s second fumble of the game at the Rams’ 19-yard line. Stokley burst through a line of East defenders for the score from 15 yards out and the Red Baron conversion evened the score at 8-8.

East coughed up the ball on their next possession, but Gates gave it right back.  This time, however,  the Rams held onto the pigskin. On fourth-and-goal, Travis Whitehead bobbled a short offering from Grant on a post play, but held on for the score to make it 14-8.

Four minutes later, East’s Dustin Driver intercepted Wiggins and the Rams were able to cash in again; needing just one play for Lassiter to barrage his way into the end zone from 31 yards out and make it 20-8.

Gates avoided further damage at the end of the half when Wiggins was picked off again, but the East player who made the interception stepped out of bounds before reaching the end zone just as time expired.

The Red Barons got their second half off to a good note when they trapped Grant in the end zone for a safety to make the score 20-10.

Gates County had a touchdown called back on offsetting penalties two minutes later, but kept the drive alive and got within two on Stokley’s second score of the game: a 12-yard end-around sprint followed by a two-point conversion that made it, 20-18.

But East came right back and scored by going 59 yards in just three plays to up the margin once again to 10 after a conversion and a score made it 28-18.

That was the same score at the start of the fourth quarter before Gates shortened it once again. This time cashing in on a short field and needing just nine plays to go 30 yards to make it, 28-24.

Once again, East answered with a score to bump it back to 10 again, 34-24, and a lead of a dozen following the two-point conversion at 36-24.

Gates got one more score, and might’ve had two, but had a second touchdown on the night was called back. They were driving with less than a minute to play before the East defense rose up and helped preserve the win.

“We got two good wins the last two weeks, got a little overconfident, went out there and didn’t show up the first half and it killed us,” said Gates coach Matt Biggy.

“Not to take anything from Northampton-East,” he added, “because number-two (Lassiter) and number-five (Evans) are great football players.”

“They couldn’t just key in on any one guy,” said Privott, “and we had some great plays on offense and defense.”

Gates hosts Northampton-West on Friday night while East stays on the road, this time with a trip to face North Edgecombe.  Both games are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. starts.