ELIZABETHTOWN — For the second straight season, the Eagles of East Bladen have opened with two straight losses — the latest coming Friday night, when Whiteville came to town and earned a 17-8 win.
“They just outplayed us,” East Bladen coach Robby Priest said. “Can’t beat around the bush, they came to play.”
The Eagles were plagued by fumbles, missed tackles and poor blocking all night, and Whiteville took advantage of it.
After the two teams traded fumbles to open the game, East Bladen put together a 58-yard march on five plays — highlighted by a 30-yard run up the middle by Farrell Murchison. But on the sixth play at the Wolfpack 22, the Eagles picked up 9 yards and coughed up the ball again.
Whiteville then marched 86 yards in four plays — the last one a 67-yard run for a score that got called back to the East Bladen 43 because of a penalty. The Wolfpack needed just two plays to stuff the ball into the end zone with 3:50 left in the first quarter. The point after was good and Whiteville had a 7-0 edge.
East Bladen’s ensuing possession fizzled and Whiteville’s also fizzled early in the second quarter. A 33-yard punt put East Bladen at its own 41, where the Eagles began a 59-yard drive that featured a 26-yard run by Jimmy Campbell and a 10-yard touchdown run by Murchsion, who flattened a Whiteville defender at the 1 and burst into the end zone with 6:10 left in the half.
Campbell ran in the two-point conversion and gave East Bladen an 8-7 lead.
Each team traded drives deep into the other’s territory, but could not put points on the board before the half.
Whiteville stunned the Eagles and their crowd with a 60-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second half. The PAT was good and, just 14 seconds into the third quarter, Whiteville had wrestled the lead away from the Eagles, 14-8. They would not give it up.
East Bladen’s best scoring opportunity in the third quarter came late, when the Eagles marched from their own 36 to the Wolfpack 35 — a drive that featured a fourth and 2 run by Murchison, who gained 11 yards but carried four defenders with him the final 6 yards. Four plays later, on a fourth and 1, East Bladen was stopped for no gain.
Whiteville took over at its own 35 and moved the ball to the East Bladen 27 in eight plays. Facing a fourth and 7, the Wolfpack set up for a long 44-yard field goal — and nailed it for a 17-8 lead with 6:13 left in the game.
East Bladen had two possessions the rest of the way, but never got past its own 24.
“There’s a whole lot for us to work on,” Priest said. “There were some positives, but anytime you lose … you gotta watch film to see them.”
Murchison led the Eagles on the ground with 117 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, while Campbell had 65 yards on 12 carries and Jaylon Herring had 63 yards on 16 carries.
Through the air, Ty McMillian was 2-for-6 for 10 yards. Alex Stephens had a catch for 9 yards and Tavon Carter had a catch for 1 yard.
The Eagles have an open date this coming Friday before they travel to Monroe on Sept. 13 for a game against Sun Valley High.