LUMBERTON — Right from his opening carry, Seventy-First running back Elijah McFadyen found his best chance of running against the Lumberton defense and looked for it all night during his standout performance.
After a 54-yard rush on his first carry, the Falcons’ senior spearheaded his teams rushing attack that pounded away at the Lumberton defense in the second half to take a 44-21 non-conference win at Lumberton on Friday.
“Up the middle was open. I just had to be patient and wait to make that cut, make that decision faster,” McFadyen said. “They did their job, I did my job and we went out and scored.”
McFadyen rushed for 310 yards on 27 carries and three touchdowns, while his fellow backfield running mate Jaylon Jackson had 142 yards and two touchdowns as Seventy-First hit the running game hard in the second half to expolit Lumberton’s (1-3) shallow depth on defense.
“We’re not as deep as we want to be right now and it showed in the third quarter,” Lumberton coach Mike Setzer said. “Physically we were able to match up for a half, but the second half we were missing some pieces and we’ve got some injuries we’re going to have to address. The injuries were not the reason we lost the game, we lost to a very good, solid football program.”
On the opening drive of the second half with the Falcons (3-1) holding on to a 17-14 lead, sophomore quarterback Kyler Davis accounted for 73 yards passing and rushing on the drive to set up a four-yard touchdown run from McFadyen.
“It was just good ole fashioned football in the second half,” Setzer said of the opening drive in the third quarter. “We got punched in the mouth.”
“We could tell how their defense was weakening and getting tired,” McFadyen said. “We knew they were tired so we was like we’ve got to go ahead and step on them.”
McFadyen scored later in the third on a 64-yard run on the first play of the Seventy-First drive to push the lead out to 30-14. His long scoring play was followed up Tyreik McCallum for Lumberton on the ensuing kickoff as he returned the kick 94 yards for a touchdown and cut the lead to nine.
The Pirates chances at a comeback stopped there as its offense stalled, had costly turnovers and Jackson and McFadyen added a touchdowns to close out the game for the Falcons.
Lumberton amassed under 240 yards of total offense in the game and only found the endzone once on offense with a seven-yard touchdown run from Tae Tae Stephenson to put the Pirates up 14-10 late in the first half.
“I was pretty happy with my offense in the first half,” Setzer said. “Our special teams, offense and defense played a really good half of football. We just didn’t have a good second half.”
Seventy-First closed out the half with a 65-yard touchdown drive in 41 seconds to go up 17-14 at the half.
The Pirates put the first points on the board as Jaylen Whitted picked off Davis and returned the interception 91 yards for a touchdown and give Lumberton the early 7-0 lead.
On top of his 94-yard kickoff return, McCallum was Lumberton quarterback Braylan Grice’s top target on the night with eight grabs for 68 yards, with the Pirates look to take advantage of the Falcon’s pass defense. Lumberton was held to under 15 rushes in the game.
“They are a really good run stopping team and we felt tonight that we could stretch them out with our passing game,” Setzer said on why his team was pass-heavy in playcalling.
Grice passed for 195 yards, but he threw two picks that came following touchdown drives from Seventy-First. The second came as Lumberton was on its only drive into Falcon territory as a tipped pass by receiver Brandon Norris was scooped up Fabion Jones to halt the Pirates’ series.
“It’s a learning process and there’s no better teacher than experience,” Setzer said.
Lumberton plays at Overhills next week.
Westover stops Purnell Swett’s streak
Coming in on a two-game winning streak, the Purnell Swett football team fell on the road to Westover 49-6 on Friday.
Al’Drique Thompson had a 30-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to put the Rams on the board.
Purnell Swett (2-2) hosts Jack Britt next Friday night.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.