DUBLIN — For West Bladen coach Russell Priest, who took refuge in the press box to nurse a cold during Friday’s Four County Conference game against Pender County, his Knights gave him just what the doctor ordered with a 61-0 shutout.
The 61 points breaks the week-old school record of 57 points and improves the Knights to 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the conference.
In the first quarter, West Bladen needed just 10 plays to score five touchdowns, while the defense held the patriots to just 14 plays and 3o yards of offense.
The Knights’ first touchdown came after a 20-yard run by Malcolm Vaught when De’quan Lennon got loose for a 30-yard scoring run at the 9:354 mark. Colby Mclean’s PAT put West Bladen up 7-0.
On the next possession, Vaught swept around the right side and went 51 yards for a touchdown at the 6:46 mark. McLean’s point after gave the Knights a 14-0 lead.
After Pender County got its first first down, Frankie Moultrie recovered a Patriots fumble at the Pender County 47. Nijeal Williams gained 21 on the first play and Kesean Sutton took it 26 yards to the end zone on the second play. McLean booted the extra point for a 21-0 West Bladen lead with 4:20 left in the quarter.
The patriots got a 16-yard pass play on their first play after the kickoff, but Ed Owens recovered a fumble on the next play at the West Bladen 41. Vaught gained 8 yards on the ground, followed by a 27-yard run by Lennon and a 35-yard touchdown run by Malique McDowell. McLean’s kick was good and the Knights led 28-0 with 3:25 still on the clock.
Pender County couldn’t move on its next possession, and a sack by Scottie Storms didn’t help the Patriots’ cause. West Bladen took over at its own 35 after a Pender County punt and needed just single play — a 65-yard pass from Colby Lewis to Xavier McKoy — to score with 1:06 showing. McLean’s PAT gave the Knights a 35-0 lead.
The two teams traded punts early in the second quarter before Donald McCullum recovered a Patriots’ fumble at the West Bladen 45. From there, Lennon ran for 26 yards on the first play and followed it with a 29-yard touchdown run on the second play. The point after was missed, but the Knights were up 41-0 with 6:47 left in the half.
Pender County moved the ball on it next possession from its own 30 to the West Bladen 3, but on fourth-and-goal, the Patriots coughed up the ball and Brandon Council fell on it at the 3.
Lewis ran for 9 yards to the 12, but a bad snap on the next play put the ball back on the West Bladen 2. Sutton then took a handoff and busted into the clear, outracing the Patriots for a 98-yard touchdown run. McLean’s kick was good and the Knights were up 48-0 with 2:22 left in the half.
The Patriots couldn’t move and, on fourth down, lost 21 yards on a fumble. West Bladen took a knee to end the half.
“It’s been fun calling plays from up in the booth,” said Dove at halftime. “Now we’ll let the starters play a series and get them out, along with anyone who might be nursing some minor injuries, and get some kids who usually do a lot of watching some playing time. We just want them to play smart and not do anything to get ejected.”
The second half went pretty much according to script.
On the first play of the third quarter, Williams took the ball 56 yards for a touchdown. McLean kicked the PAT and West Bladen’s lead grew to 55-0 with just 54 seconds off the clock.
Pender County drove 45 yards to the Knights’ 30 before Parker Allen disrupted a pitch and recovered the ensuing fumble at the West Bladen 39. The Knights, with its second team in, went on a 61-yard march in 11 plays — highlighted by five straight runs by Traquan Horne, who carried the ball in for a 5-yard touchdown at the 9:29 mark. West Bladen took a knee, but the lead had ballooned to 61-0.
The Patriots fumbled again and Cornelius Jarmon fell on it for West Bladen. The Knights took four knees to give the ball back, but Pender County only moved the ball 13 yards before a fumble was recovered by the Knights’ Hunter Pait. West Bladen took another knee to end the game.
“This ‘W’ is on the assistant coaches and players,” said Dove. “The defense played phenomenal, creating turnovers all over the place; the offense executed well and took advantage of the opportunities the defense gave them.
“Even in a game like this — I don’t like to see a lop-sided score like this, but it’s good to see nobody gave up on either side,” he added.
Sutton led the Knights on the ground with 154 yards on just four carries. Williams had 104 yards on four carries and Lennon had 82 yards on three carries. Vaught added 79 yards on three carries.
Through the air, Lewis was 1-for-1 for 65 yards, with McKoy catching the lone pass.