Published: 12:01 AM, Fri Aug 26, 2011
Gray's Creek uses big plays to rout Pine Forest, 42-13
The team that prefers slow and steady came on fast and furious in a cross-county battle Thursday night.
The Gray's Creek Bears produced 13 plays of 10 yards or better in the opening half, including four that resulted in touchdowns from 21 yards or more in routing Pine Forest, 42-13.
The Class 3-A Bears (2-0) delivered big plays on offense, defense and special teams to hand the 4-A Trojans (0-2) their second straight lopsided loss. Pine Forest suffered a 56-0 defeat against Purnell Swett in the season opener.
Playing Thursday instead of their regular Friday schedule to avoid the affects of approaching Hurricane Irene, the Bears stunned the Trojans at the outset when sophomore Jefferie Gibson returned a punt 70 yards for a score barely a minute into the game.
The 6-foot-4, 177-pound safety caught the rolling punt at his own 30, weaved his way to the right sideline, then outran defenders to the end zone.
"It was all about the blocking,'' Gibson said. "I got a lead block right around the 30 (yard line) and after that I knew I was going all the way.''
Senior quarterback Caleb McNeill said Gibson's return was a quick spark for the Bears.
"Jefferie is definitely phenomenal and another special part of our team that allows us to make big plays,'' McNeill said. "He's a game changer.''
McNeill's offense quickly joined Gibson in the big-play category. Known more grinding out yardage with its Wing-T formation, Gray's Creek struck for long gainers on its next three possessions to take command.
A 21-yard touchdown pass from McNeill to Tory Davis gave the Bears a 14-0 lead. Then junior running back Ken McDowell ripped off a 56-yard touchdown run for a 21-0 advantage with 2:16 to go in the first quarter.
Davis set up yet another Gray's Creek score with a 40-yard run. He later got the touchdown on a 4-yard run off the left side for a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter.
"I don't necessarily prefer to grind it out, but we've got to be able to do that,'' Gray's Creek coach David Lovette said. "You can't just rely on having big plays. But tonight we had them on offense, defense and special teams. I just hope we can continue doing that.''
McDowell had 95 yards rushing and Davis added another 92, both on 11 carries, for Gray's Creek. The Bears racked up 299 yards on the ground as a team.
McNeill completed all three of his passes in the game for 78 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bears are scheduled to meet another county 4-A foe when they play for the first time on the road at Terry Sanford.
Pine Forest seeks its first win at home against Smithfield-Selma next Friday.
"I thought we played a little better tonight than we did last week,'' Pine Forest coach Bill Sochovka said. "I don't think we gave up as much as we did last week. I'm proud of that. But we've got a lot more things to work on.''
Staff writer Sammy Batten can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 486-3534.
Gray's Creek 42, Pine Forest 13
GC - Jefferie Gibson 70 punt return (Stephen Nalls kick)
GC - Cory Davis 21 pass from Caleb McNeill (Nalls kick)
GC - Ken McDowell 56 run (Nalls kick)
GC - Davis 4 run (Nalls kick)
PF - E.J. Williams 25 pass from Bryson Hall (Patrick Woods kick)
GC - McDowell 47 pass from McNeill (Nalls kick)
GC - Davis 16 run (Nalls kick)
PF - Jake Jensen 25 pass from Hall (kick failed)
Rushing: PF - Angel Dickinson 10-54, Bryson Hall 12-39, Xavier Mercer 2-(-7), Devonte Baker 4-(-8), E.J. Williams 1-12, Jake Richards 1-(-6), Man Fleming 1-16. GC - Jonathan Chiles 10-66, Caleb McNeill 3-12, Ken McDowell 11-95, Tory Davis 11-92, Parker Williams 1-13, Matt Martin 2-(-4), Frederick Hall 8-25.
Passing: PF - Bryson Hall 15-34-2, 188. GC - Caleb McNeill 3-3-0, 78.
Receiving: PF - E.J. Williams 7-116, Darius McCoy 5-39, Jake Jensen 2-36, Derrick Golden 1-(-3). GC - Tory Davis 1-21, Ken McDowell 1-47, Clay Burkhard 1-10.
Records: Pine Forest 0-2, Gray's Creek 2-0.
Next game: Smithfield-Selma at Pine Forest, Gray's Creek at Terry Sanford