Wildcats excel in showdown with Cougars

RAMSEUR — Eastern Randolph didn’t seem fazed by a big-game environment. So the Wildcats settled in quickly and dispatched visiting Southwestern Randolph, winning 32-14 in Friday night’s showdown.
“It’s a rival. It’s an in-county game,” Eastern Randolph coach Burton Cates said afterward. “It’s the first conference game. It’s homecoming.”

And it’s another notable performance for the Wildcats (5-0).

Na’hiem Lilly scored four touchdowns and Eastern Randolph was in command for most of the game.

Eastern Randolph’s Adone Herbert reaches for a fumbled ball during a game against Southwestern Randolph on Oct. 1 in Ramseur. PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL

“We didn’t control the line of scrimmage all night long,” Southwestern Randolph coach Seth Baxter said. “We got knocked on our heels a little bit.”

Indeed, the best start to a season in school history had the Cougars (5-1) hopeful that they could pull off a rare victory in this series.

But Eastern Randolph scored the first two touchdowns. After Southwestern Randolph got on the board, the Wildcats cranked out a strong finish to the first half and led 26-7 at the break.

“We made a couple of bad turnovers,” Baxter said. “Nothing went our way in the first half on bounces. And you’ve got to create your bounces and opportunities.”

Eastern Randolph kept making key plays. Quarterback Stratton Barwick threw touchdown passes to Lilly and Elias Alston.

Lilly finished with 134 rushing yards on 22 carries. Alston made five catches for 84 yards.

Cates said the Wildcats had some mishaps, particularly noting passes that fell incomplete when receivers often would have caught those balls. But his team had plenty to compensate for those situations.

“It was just a lot of hard effort,” Cates said. “We know we’re going to play hard. We believe in them.”

Southwestern Randolph showcased a high-powered offense for the first month of the season. That has slowed the past couple of weeks.

Southwestern Randolph’s Keaton Reed rushes the ball against Eastern Randolph during their football game Oct. 1 in Ramseur. PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL

The Cougars had trouble protecting quarterback Keaton Reed.

“Keaton was running for his life a lot back there,” Baxter said.

Reed had a touchdown pass to Eli Gravely. Teammate Easton Clapp had more than half of his 81 yards on the ground on a 48-yard scoring run.

Randleman 48, Wheatmore 6: At Trinity, Thomas Dobias scored three touchdowns as the visiting Tigers roared in the Piedmont Athletic Conference opener for both teams.

Randleman (3-3) scored 14 points in the first quarter and did the rest of its scoring after halftime.

The Tigers received 202 passing yards from Christian Long, who connected on a 90-yard play with Lucus Gneiting. Dobias gained 116 yards on 13 carries, scoring on runs of 5, 1 and 43 yards. Ervodd Cassady had a rushing touchdown and Chris Gentry returned a punt for a score. The Tigers also scored on Chesney Welch’s 34-yard pass to Bryce Derry.

For Wheatmore (3-2), Riley Strickland threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Weil.

Oak Grove 49, Asheboro 14: At Winston-Salem, the visiting Blue Comets suffered their fifth consecutive loss, stumbling in their Mid-Piedmont Conference opener.

Connor Creech threw for three touchdowns for Oak Grove (4-1, 1-0).
Hakemme Butler scored both touchdowns for Asheboro (1-5) on passes from Khyland Hadley-Lindsay.

Postponed: Trinity’s game at Providence Grove was scratched because of COVID-related protocols involving the Trinity team. The game was rescheduled for Oct. 18 (a Monday).
Because of that switch, the Southwestern Randolph/Providence Grove game for later that week was moved back one day to Oct. 23.

By Moore County Staff

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