All four of Robeson County’s Three Rivers Conference teams faced each other to start conference play on Friday with Fairmont and St. Pauls winning their openers as the only teams from Robeson County to come out victorious in week six.
The Golden Tornadoes won their second straight game to rebound from an 0-3 start with a 56-12 win at South Robeson, while St. Pauls used a come-from-behind win at Red Springs to move its record to 3-2 with a 25-12 win.
The two county 4A teams played on the road to close out their non-conference schedule before opening Southeastern Conference play in two weeks. Lumberton lost in heartbreaking fashion to Triton, 29-27, with the Pirates’ game-winning field goal attempt blocked by the Hawks. Purnell Swett fell 49-21 to New Hanover on the road.
TEAM OF THE WEEK
St. Pauls: The second half of the East Bladen game has been a turning point for the St. Pauls program as coach Ernest King saw his team battle back from a 36-7 halftime deficit to make it a 36-28 game in the fourth quarter. That same second-half mentality drove St. Pauls past a 12-6 halftime hole to rival Red Springs to win its conference opener with a 25-12 win. Making the most of two Red Springs turnovers that gave them a short field for quick touchdowns, the Bulldogs second half comeback started on the defensive side of the ball.
St. Pauls came out at halftime and overtook the Red Devils’ offensive line to help force the turnovers and slow down the run game. While its defense got the ball back, quarterback Noah Wheeler led the St. Pauls offense with his dual-threat skills.
Noah Wheeler, QB, St. Pauls — Wheeler did most of his damage with his rushing touchdowns, but along with running back Chris Graham, the pair running the read option put a lot of pressure on the Red Springs defense, especially in the second half. The receiver turned quarterback passed for 98 yards and rushed for 51 more to total three touchdowns in the game.
He worked the ball around to four different receivers on the night, but opened his night passing with a 49-yard completion to Dakota Oxendine, who was his top target on the night with five of his eight pass completions.
Jarique Moore, WR, Fairmont — The athletic senior showed he wasn’t limited to just pass catching on Friday as he recorded three touchdowns, including two on the ground, as he played quarterback for the Golden Tornadoes after an elbow injury to Julius Caulder late in the first half.
He had a 22-yard touchdown catch along with 12-yard and 66-yard touchdown runs in the second half. While at quarterback, he ran the read option effectively along with running back Halijah McLean. For the game, he finished with 108 rushing yards, two receptions for 34 yards and 12 yards passing.
OTHER NOTABLE PERFORMANCES
Chris Graham, RB, St. Pauls — Had 19 rushes for 73 yards and a touchdown.
D.J. Henson, DB, St. Pauls — Recovered two fumbles and had a tackle for loss.
Christian Dunn, DL, St. Pauls — Finished with two sacks.
Wade Monroe, TE, Red Springs — Hauled in three catches for 76 yards and a touchdown.
Halijah McLean, RB, Fairmont — Finished with 113 yards on 11 carries and a pair of touchdowns.
Brent McDonald, DB, Fairmont — Returned a fumble recovery 50 yards for a touchdown.
Julius Caulder, QB, Fairmont — Accounted for two touchdowns before leaving game with an injury.
Fairmont’s defense — Logged its best performance of the season with a season-best three takeaways.
Cameron Werrell, ATH, South Robeson — Accounted for two touchdowns, including a 70-yard halfback pass.
Chris Graham looks upfield during St. Pauls’ 25-12 win at Red Springs on Friday. The senior rushed for 73 yards with 39 in the second half.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.