Knights thumps West Columbus, 49-14

W. Curt Vincent -

DUBLIN — West Bladen got positive contributions from the offense, defense and special teams Friday and thumped visiting West Columbus, 49-14, in the Knights’ home opener.

The win improved West Bladen to 2-0.

The Knights took the opening possession at their own 48 and after a run got stuffed, quarterback Wes Pidgeon hit B.J. Drake with a swing pass and Drake raced 52 yards to the end zone. Scott Bowen added the extra point and West Bladen led 7-0 just 52 seconds into the game.

After the Vikings stalled near midfield, a 28-yard punt gave West Bladen the ball at its own 38. Drake ran for 20 yards, James Moore added a 20-yard run and, after three more runs moved the ball 21 yards to the West Columbus 1, Drake busted in for a score — only to have a holding penalty nullify the touchdown. The Knights ran four plays from the 11, but managed only 4 yards.

West Columbus couldn’t move anywhere but backwards and, on the third play, a pass over the middle was picked off by Shaq Johnson for West Bladen at the Vikings’ 7 and returned to the 1, but a taunting penalty after the play moved the ball back to the West Columbus 16.

A penalty helped West Bladem move to the Vikings’ 11 and a pass from Pidgeon to Dayvon Swindell took the ball to the 4, where Drake finished things off with a touchdown run. Bowen’s kick gave West Bladen a 14-0 lead with 2:33 left in the first quarter.

West Columbus took over at its own 45 and never got anything going. On the first play of the second quarter, a fourth-and-5 for the Vikings, Zion Barrett chased down the quarterback and dropped him for a 7-yard loss, giving West Bladen possession at midfield.

The Knights wasted little time, getting a 5-yard run from Pidgeon and a beautiful 45-yard scoring strike down the left side to Johnson. The two-point run on a busted extra point was no good, but the home team led, 20-0, just 1:06 into the second stanza.

The Vikings took over at their own 40 and moved to the West Bladen 47 before things fizzled. The ensuing punt traveled 28 yards and Johnson gathered it in at the West Bladen 25, cut to the right sideline and outraced the West Columbus defense for a 75-yard touchdown return. Moore ran in the two-point conversion to give the Knights a 28-0 lead with 6:53 left before halftime.

The Vikings finally got on the board, using a seven-play, 63-yard drive to pay dirt — the key play coming on a tipped pass that found a Vikings player’s hands for a 24-yard gain to the Knights’ 2. It took three tries to get in, but West Columbus did and, when the two-point attempt was foiled, West Bladen still held a 28-6 edge with 3:56 left in the half.

Starting from their own 33, the Knights’ moved to the West Columbus 43 before having to punt — and Bowen’s 36-yarder was fumbled and recovered by Swindell at the Vikings’ 7. Two plays later, Moore busted in fir a 5-yard touchdown and Bowen’s point after increased the Knights’ lead to 35-6 at halftime.

A 40-yard kickoff return to open the second half by the Vikings put the ball at the West Bladen 40, but four plays netted just 8 yards. The Knights took over at their own 32 and also couldn’t move far. But Bowen unleashed a 56-yard punt that rolled dead at the West Columbus 14 and Barrett got another sack for an 11-yard loss on the first play. West Columbus managed to move out to its own 43 before stalling and a 15-yard punt set the Knights up at their own 42.

West Bladen went on a 10-play, 57-yard march that culminated in a touchdown when Moore busted free on a 29-yard scoring run. Bowen added the PAT to give West Bladen a 42-6 lead with 11:35 left in the game.

The kickoff was picked up by the Vikings at their own 25 and ended with a 75-yard touchdown run through the West Bladen defense. The two-point run was good and closed the Vikings’ deficit to 42-14 just 16 seconds later.

The Knights went three and out, but a 40-yard punt gave West Columbus the ball at its own 15. Barrett got his third sack of the game and West Bladen forced another Vikings punt, but a 15-yard penalty tacked on 15 yards and pushed the Knights back to their own 25.

Tykee Jeffries rushed for 7 yards and Michael Hepburn added a 7-yard run before Jeffries exploded up the middle like a blur and raced 61 yards for a West Bladen touchdown. Bowen added the kick and the Knights had a 49-14 lead with 5:25 left to play.

West Columbus opened its next possession at its own 45, but could only move to the Knights’ 27. A sack by Johnson helped fizzle the drive and West Bladen took over with 1:20 left. A.J.Willis ran for 10 yards and Pidgeon took a knee to run out the clock.

“We’re starting to put things together,”West Bladen coach Todd Pait said. “I really liked the effort and it’s always good to be able to get the younger players in — they are what will feed the program for us.

“Penalties are still a problem and special teams needs work … that kickoff return was a little irritating,” he added. “But we’ll get all that fixed.”

Johnson had a quadruple special of sorts with a punt return for a touchdown, an interception, a sack and a 45-yard touchdown reception, while Barrett turned in three sacks on defense.

Moore led the Knights’ rushing attack with 94 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Jeffroes had 68 yards and a touchdown on just two carries.

Through the air, Pidgeon was 5-of-9 for 106 yards and two touchdowns.

The Knights will travel to Whiteville on Friday for a non-conference game against the Wolfpack.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.

W. Curt Vincent

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