PEMBROKE — There is strength in numbers and the Purnell Swett football team used its roster that dwarfed Red Springs’ to its advantage on both sides of the ball Friday night.
With a balanced, fast-paced offensive attack and a swarming defense, the Rams avenged last year’s loss to the Red Devils with a 43-20 win at home.
With a 22-point lead at the half, Purnell Swett (1-1) came out of the locker room and sped up the offense and was able to catch the Red Devils (1-1) winded and out of position to quickly build onto the lead with a Damion Holloway rushing touchdown from a yard out to go up 29-0, less than two minutes into the third quarter.
“I’ll give credit to Coach (offensive coordinator Robbie Brown) for that. I just said, ‘Coach, do what you’ve got to do,’ and he ran it,” Purnell Swett coach Jon Sherman said. “I thought that was a pretty good adjustment.”
The change caught Red Springs off guard and coach Ron Cook saw the problems it caused.
“They came out in the second half and they knew it. They came out and sped up their tempo on offense and we had a little bit of trouble getting lined up,” he said. “Fatigue definitely played a part, especially in the second half.”
Holloway, along with Al’Drique Thompson and Deandre Pankey formed a three-back force that tallied 181 yards and two touchdowns. Pankey was the workhorse early with 13 carries in the game, including the first score of the game on a 10-yard carry. Holloway came in relief later in the game and Thompson found holes and broke them for big gains. Thompson finished with four rushes for 83 yards.
“Damion is a horse and he came back from injury and he ran hard,” Sherman said. “Al’Drique Thompson showed me something tonight. He ran the way I think Al’Drique Thompson runs and Pankey does what Pankey does. Those are three backs I think we can live off and have a great game with.”
While Purnell Swett’s established its run game early and often, Red Springs struggled in the first half gaining yardage on the ground, a staple of the Red Devils’ offense, with 25 yards rushing going into halftime.
“They had a solid gameplan,” Cook said of Purnell Swett stacking the box and taking their chances with their defensive backs going one-on-one with Red Springs’ receivers, “they believed they could take that chance and they got away with it.”
The Red Devils established their run game in the second half with Marquis Ray finishing with 136 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. His first touchdown came on the following play from scrimmage after Holloway’s rushing touchdown as he went 59 yards out for the score. His other came on Red Springs’ most sustained drive on the night, an eight-play, 64-yard drive that ended on a 20-yard score to start the fourth quarter and cut the lead to 36-14.
“I felt the defense was pretty good but it lapsed,” Sherman said. “I felt like we could’ve held it to zero. The touchdowns you saw were mental lapses.”
Outside of Ray, the Rams defense pursued the ball well and contained the ball like they gameplanned for.
“We were just trying to keep the ball from going too far outside and keep on squeezing the middle,” Purnell Swett linebacker Richie McCrimmon said. “We stopped the outside run and stopped their running game basically.”
In his second start at quarterback, Luke Oxendine went 10-for-18 passing for 147 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Both his touchdown passes went to Chandler Brayboy who scored on a pass over the middle late in the second quarter and on a screen in the fourth quarter.
Purnell Swett hosts South Robeson next Friday. Red Springs travels to Harrells Christian Academy.
Purnell Swett’s Blake Lowry, left, and Cameron Oxendine, right, converge to tackle Red Springs running back Justin Locklear. Lowry had an interception in the game for Purnell Swett.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.