ROWLAND — Visiting East Bladen built up a 35-12 lead by halftime, outgained South Robeson by a 405-105 margin and took a 49-12 Three Rivers Conference win on Friday.
The Eagles improved to 9-1 overall and 7-1 in the conference, while the Mustangs fell to 3-7 and 3-5.
East Bladen scored on its first possession of the game, driving 56 yards on just five plays when Eric Chancy broke through the line and raced 42 yards for the score. Pierce Melvin added the point after and gave the Eagles a 7-0 lead just 3:27 into the game.
After holding the Mustangs, East Bladen was on the move again. This time the march covered 53 yards in nine plays, highlighted by a 12-yard run by Xavier Wooten and 10-yard rumble by Xavia McDowell before Wooten rushed the final 14 yards for the touchdown. Melvin added the PAT for a 14-0 Eagles lead with 4:31 left in the first quarter.
South Robeson gambled and lost on a fourth down try at its own 34, and East Bladen took advantage in just two plays — the big one a 12-yard pass from Quinton Bedsole to Adonis Avery before Josh McKoy ran the final 11 yards for the score. Melvin’s kick was good and gave the visitors a 21-0 lead with 1:14 left in the quarter.
The Mustangs responded with a quick-strike offense that put six points on the board in just 47 seconds. The two-point try failed, but South Robeson had pulled to within 21-6.
Early in the second quarter, an Eagles fumble and the East Bladen 23 gave South Robeson another shot, and the Mustangs didn’t waste it. It took only three plays for South Rob to get into the end zone and, after another two-point try failure, the Mustangs were within 21-12 with 9:27 left in the half.
East Bladen answered by marching 52 yards on 12 methodical plays that culminated with a 1-yard touchdown by Wooten. Melvin split the uprights to give the Eagles a 28-12 lead with 3:57 left in the second quarter.
The Eagles’ defense came up big with a sack from Dayveon Washington that pinned the Mustangs back on their own 4 to force a punt, and East Bladen set up at the South Robeson 36. Bedsole then found Shy Pone with a 36-yard pass and catch for a touchdown. Melvin added the extra point to give the visitors a 35-12 advantage with 1:52 left in the half.
The East Bladen defense settled in from there and didn’t allow South Robeson to threaten the rest of the game.
Meanwhile, the Eagles returned from halftime and scored on the first play — a 52-yard pass and catch from Bedsole to Pone — but a penalty brought the ball back. Just a handful of plays later, East Bladen fumbled and the Mustangs grabbed it off the ground and returned it to the East Bladen 20. But the Eagles’ D held and gave the ball back to the offense at their own 12.
James Higgins finished off an 88-yard drive with a 22-yard touchdown run and Melvin’s kick gave East Bladen a 42-12 lead with 2:42 before the end of the third quarter.
South Robeson once again found itself starting in Eagles’ territory after a big kickoff return, but the East Bladen defense again bowed up and allowed the Mustangs only 5 yards.
With a running clack quickly taking the game into the fourth quarter, East Bladen used the last 10 plays of the night to drive 60 yards and finish up with 15-yard touchdown run by Lawson Hester. Melvin added his seventh PAT of the night to give the Eagles their final point and 37-point win.
“It felt like it was the first game all over again,” said East Bladen coach Robby Priest, “after the two-week layoff.”
Chancy led the Eagles’ ground game with 116 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, while Wooten added 77 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.
Through air, Bedsole was 3-of-11 for 58 yards.
East Bladen will host cross-county rival West Bladen in the Battle for the Bell on Friday at 7 p.m. It will be the conference’s regular-season finale before playoffs open the following week.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.