First Posted: 1/15/2009
WENDELL -- On a night that held little but pain for Jordan Reisman, the best that can be said for the Lumberton senior quarterback is he was able to walk away from it.
Reisman hobbled across the chalked yard lines at Johnny W. Sasser Stadium on Friday night with a losing scoreboard over his shoulder, reading “East Wake 35, Lumberton 21.” Wincing with each step, Reisman's stiff creakiness was remindful of a cross-country trucker after an all-night run.
That labored gait spoke volumes for the state of the Pirates' offense in their season-ending game.
Harried and harassed all night by a carnivorous Warriors defense, Reisman was sacked nine times and had his two top receivers shackled as East Wake (12-1) moved on to the quarterfinals in the 4-AA state playoffs.
“I'll tell you what: That's a gawl-darn good quarterback -- maybe the best we've seen,” East Wake coach Jimmy Williams said of Reisman, who completed 10 of 22 passes for 144 yards and one touchdown. “Our two goals were to keep him bottled up with our defense and to keep him off the field as much as possible with our running game.”
That's precisely what the Warriors did. After Lumberton (9-4) marched 68 yards in 10 plays to score a touchdown on the game's opening drive, the Pirates didn't register another first down until their first second-half drive.
Reisman and Co. faced a major obstacle from the get-go. Deon Mitchell, the Pirates' second-leading receiver and game-breaking kick returner, sat out the game. He was arrested Thursday for selling marajuana and subsequently was suspended from school.
“That hurt us,” Pirates coach Jeff Smouse said of the absence of Mitchell, who has returned five kickoffs for touchdowns this season, “but it didn't hurt us as much as their defensive front did.”
Adrian Worley, the Pirates' top receiver this season with 60 catches for 906 yards, was blanketed by East Wake's defense and didn't catch a pass until 2:26 remained in the fourth quarter. That catch went for a touchdown, and Worley then caught a pass for the ensuing two-point conversion that hacked Lumberton's deficit to 28-21.
But two plays into the Warriors next drive, running back James Jones burst through the Pirates' line like a last-minute Christmas shopper going through a revolving door, sailing 48 yards to an icing touchdown.
Jones finished with 208 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries. His first TD came 2:10 into the second quarter, a 25-yard burst that capped a nine-play, 64-yard drive and pulled East Wake into a 7-7 tie.
Jones scored again with 8 seconds left in the first half to cap a 17-play, 70-yard march and put the Warriors up 14-7 at intermission.
But Rod Hill snared back the momentum for the Pirates, tipping a Calvin Harris pass to himself and returning it 26 yards for a touchdown with 2 minutes gone in the third quarter. Kicker Garrett Straughn missed the ensuing extra-point try, and Lumberton trailed 14-13.
That's as close as the Pirates got the rest of the way. Harris scored on a 1-yard run with 2 minutes left in the third quarter to put East Wake up 21-13.
The Warriors' back-breaking score came early in the fourth quarter. Eliot Hanson intercepted a Reisman pass at the East Wake 1-yard line, and the Warriors then marched 99 yards in 11 running plays -- the last of which being a 36-yard TD bolt by Chris Bradshaw -- to sink the Pirates into a 28-13 hole with 3:29 left.
“We didn't play our best game, but we played hard. That's all I can ask,” said Smouse, whose team was outgained in total yards 345-180. “Their defensive front caused us problems. We couldn't run the ball, and we didn't have a lot of time to throw.”
Steve Beaudry can be reached at 739-4322, Ext. 118 or by e-mail at [email protected]