First Posted: 1/15/2009
FAYETTEVILLE -- If a nasty case of the flu couldn't stop him, what could Lumberton expect to do against Pine Forest's Robert Dowdy?
Dowdy, the Trojans' standout receiver and outside linebacker, whipped both illness and the Pirates as Pine Forest handed Lumberton its first loss of the season, 36-31, on Friday night in a battle of Two Rivers Conference unbeatens.
Tracking down passes on offense and Lumberton quarterback Jordan Reisman on defense, Dowdy helped the Trojans overcome a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit despite not being at full strength.
“I thought Robert Dowdy was a tremendous player tonight,” Pine Forest head coach Dean Saffos said. “In the second half, he was 100 percent, and that's the only percent that counts.”
Dowdy caught three balls for 82 yards and a score, but it was his defensive effort that snuffed out Lumberton's last shot at victory. Twice he sacked Reisman on the Pirates' final drive, which ended when a fourth-down pass skipped off the fingers of Adrian Worley inside the Pine Forest 10-yard-line with 1:34 left in the game.
Just the play before, Dowdy had dropped Reisman for a 7-yard loss.
Even Dowdy wasn't sure how he did it.
“You get an adrenaline rush and you don't think about it,” Dowdy said. “I just flew. I just ran as fast as I could, and he had his back turned to me.”
The ending capped a frustrating night for Lumberton (5-1, 0-1 TRC), which missed out on a chance to put the Trojans away. After going up 31-22 on a 24-yard Matt Hunt touchdown grab, the Pirates failed to take advantage of a 15-yard personal foul penalty on the extra point that had Lumberton kicking off from the Pine Forest 45.
Instead of trying an onside or squib kick, neither of which would have given Pine Forest exceptional field position, Straughn booted it through the end zone.
The Trojans (6-0, 1-0) then marched the length of the field, the drive culminating in a 41-yard TD reception by Dowdy. The two-point conversion made it 31-30.
Lumberton immediately gave it back when D.J. Moore lost the handle and Pine Forest's James Watts pounced on the loose ball at the Pirate 34.
Five plays later, tailback Tim Ferrell bulled in from 3 yards out for the winning score. The shifty Ferrell picked apart Lumberton's D, gaining 212 yards on 27 totes and scoring four touchdowns.
The Two Rivers' leading rusher went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
“We knew their tailback was good, but we probably still did some things we shouldn't have done against him,” Lumberton head coach Jeff Smouse said.
Ferrell gained 168 of his yards in the first half, but he was the only Trojan hurting the Pirates at the time. Lumberton trailed 14-10 at the break but pulled ahead 24-14 by the 4:02 mark of the third quarter.
Reisman sprinted in from 4 yards out to give Lumberton the lead at the 6:52 mark. After a Rod Hill interception, Reisman found Worley for a 42-yard TD, which was Worley's first catch of the night.
Ferrell answered with a 5-yard scoring run late in the period to make it 24-22.
While Pine Forest's offense was consistently proficient -- the Trojans racked up 21 first downs -- Lumberton struggled early, with Reisman throwing only five passes in the first half. In the first two quarters, the Pirates had only 100 yards, were 0-for-3 on third-down conversion attempts, and lost a fumble.
Lumberton ended up with 296 total yards to Pine Forest's 455. Reisman ran for 59 yards and passed for 193.
“Jeff's a lot smarter than I am, he does a good job with that offense,” said Saffos. “And it's such a wicked thing to try to stop, and we didn't do a very good job of it.”
Lumberton didn't even need its offense for its first score. Deon Mitchell took the opening kickoff and sped 94 yards for the TD and a 7-0 lead. He wound up missing the second half after injuring his ankle just before halftime.
A 19-yard field goal by Straughn made it 10-0, but a pair of Ferrell TD runs gave Pine Forest the edge at half.