DUBLIN — Whiteville took advantage of West Bladen fumbles and defensive breakdowns to score 28 unanswered points in the second half for a 35-13 non-conference win on Friday.
The loss drops the Knights to 2-1.
West Bladen took a big punch to the chin on the Wolfpack’s opening drive when Whiteville marched 67 yards on six plays for a touchdown with just 2 minutes off the clock. The PAT gave the Wolfpack a quick 7-0 lead.
After a Knights fumble stopped their first drive, Whiteville went three and out — and Malcolm Vaught broke through the Wolfpack line to get a hand on the ensuing punt, which travelled just 10 yards and gave West Bladen good field position at its own 48.
But the Knights couldn’t get anything going and punted the ball back.
After holding Whiteville to another three and out, West Bladen took over at midfield and began a 50-yard drive on six plays — highlighted by a 26-yard pass from Colby Lewis to Tavion Graham, who caught the ball while on his backside — and culminated with a 2-yard touchdown run by De’quan Lennon just inside the second quarter. Colby McLean’s point after knotted the score at 7-7.
The Wolfpack drove into West Bladen territory on their next drive, but coughed up the ball and Trevor Lesane pounced on it for West Bladen at the Knights’ 42.
The two teams traded a pair of insignificant possessions before West Bladen took over on its own 29. a 12-yard run by Lennon was followed by a 32-yard run by Vaught down to the Whiteville 27. Four more runs moved the Knights to the Wolfpack 5 and a penalty against Whiteville took it inside the 3 before Lewis bulled his way up the middle for the touchdown with 1:10 left in the half. McLean’s PAT hit the upright, but West Bladen led, 13-7.
Whiteville quickly chewed up yardage and moved to West Bladen’s 20 before Stephan McDonald picked off a pass in the end zone to end the first half.
Things went south for the Knights quickly in the second half.
After a promising drive to open the third quarter by West Bladen was fizzled by a fumble, the Wolfpack drove 59 yards in four plays — aided by a pair of West Bladen penalties — and scored a touchdown at the 8:22 mark. The point-after was good to give Whiteville a 14-13 edge.
The Knights went three and out, giving Whiteville the ball at its own 38, and the Wolfpack methodically marched the 62 yards in 12 plays and scored with just 12.1 seconds left in the third quarter. The PAT gave Whiteville a 21-13 lead.
West Bladen fumbled the ball away on the first play of its next possession and Whiteville took over at the Knights’ 45. Two penalties backed the Wolfpack up to its own 49 and nothing materialized.
West Bladen could get its offense going, either, and a punt set Whiteville up on its own 44. But the Wolfpack struck quickly, getting a 56-yard run to pay dirt at the 6:56 mark of the fourth quarter. The kick was good and the Wolfpack lead ballooned to 28-13.
The Knights got a 10-yard run on second down of its next possession, but fumbled the ball away again. Whiteville took over at the West Bladen 43 and needed just one play for a 43-yard touchdown run. The kick was good and Whiteville took a 35-13 lead with 5:29 left in the game.
West Bladen started its next drive at its own 31 and, after a fumble lost 8 yards and two runs netted nothing, the Knights ran a fake punt — and the pass by Lesane drew a pass interference call against Whiteville, putting the ball at the West Bladen 33. Another Whiteville penalty moved the ball up 5 yards and, still on fourth down, the Knights got a 40-yard run by Malique McDowell to the Wolfpack’s 15. But a penalty and sack pushed West Bladen back 10 yards and, on the last play of the game, Kesean Sutton toted the ball 9 yards for the Knights.
“We shot ourselves in the foot (in the second half),” said West Bladen coach Russell Dove. “Fumbles killed us at the end of long runs. And it felt like we just let it go on those two late touchdown runs (by Whiteville).
“But we’ll learn from this and bounce back,” he added.
West Bladen’s ground game was led by Vaught with 74 yards on 10 carries, while McDowell added 55 yards on six carries. Lennon contributed 33 yards on nine carries and Lesane had 33 yards four carries.
Through the air, Lewis was 2-for-5 for 35 yards and an interception.