Pam Pack soars over Eagles
By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
VANCEBORO — As the ball spiraled through the autumn evening sky, the game’s outcome hung in the balance.
A pair of West Craven receivers streaked toward the back of the end zone, while three Washington defenders were hot on their heels. When the ball simply plopped harmlessly to the ground, Pam Pack players, coaches and fans let out a huge sigh of relief on a warm Friday evening at Eagle Stadium.
A gutsy, but failed 2-point conversion try with 80 seconds showing on the clock left Washington with a 14-13 lead. Once Jonnie Smallwood gobbled up West Craven’s onside kick attempt, the Pack simply had to run out the clock.
After a bruising 21-yard run by Travis Daniels, Washington quarterback Austin Thompson took a knee and the clock ran out, giving Washington the one-point win.
The fifth straight win for the Pam Pack (6-1, 3-0) left them tied with the New Bern Bears (5-2, 3-0) atop the Coastal Conference standings. With Washington being a 3-A team and New Bern a 4-A team, the Pack is sitting pretty with regards to the playoff race.
Sawyer, who praised the Washington fans who made the half-hour drive to Vanceboro, said he was surprised with the 2-point conversion call.
West Craven coach Clay Jordan said a tug on a receiver’s jersey may have helped the Pam Pack in the end zone. The loss for the Eagles (5-2, 2-1) was a tough one to swallow after they knocked off J.H. Rose last week.
While Jordan was disappointed with the loss, he praised Washington in defeat.
Washington took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, then had to rely on its defense to preserve that lead.
The Pack started the game in excellent field position. The Eagles used a squib kick to start the game and Washington called for a fair catch on the play. A personal foul against the Eagles on the play set up Washington at the West Craven 42-yard line. Washington marched the 42 yards in 12 plays, taking six minutes off the clock in the process.
The Pack twice converted fourth-down situations, including a fourth-and-goal. Daniels took the handoff, lost the grasp of the ball but was able to pounce on it in the end zone for the score. Justin Meekins tacked on the PAT for a 7-0 lead.
The Pack started at midfield two drives later. After a 12-yard run by Daniels (28 carries for 114 yards) and another run that gained a yard, Thompson (4-of-11 for 56 yards) rolled to his right and lobbed the ball to Jamont Jones (3 catches for 56 yards and a TD; seven rushes for 61 yards). The senior kneeled to the catch the ball, then spun around and had clear sailing to the end zone to complete the 37-yard scoring strike.
After the teams traded punts, West Craven’s Brett Mooring (13-of-24 for 226 yards with two touchdowns and one interception) used two big completions to get the Eagles into the end zone. Mooring hit Ryan Murphy (4 catches for 68) yards on a 51-yard strike and then found Erik Highsmith (4 catches for 62 yards) open for a 29-yard touchdown pass. Murphy’s PAT pulled the Eagles within 14-7.
It stayed that way until late in the fourth. Mooring hit Jimmy Gross (5 catches for 81 yards) on a slant that turned into a 59-yard touchdown toss with 1:20 showing on the clock.
That’s when Jordan gambled and decided to go for the win. Mooring’s pass missed its mark and Washington held on for the victory.
The Pack plays at four-time defending 4-A champion J.H. Rose next Friday night.
Washington West Craven
15 First Downs 9
49-229 Rushes-Yards 16-14
56 Passing Yards 226
11-4-0 Pass-Comp-Int 24-13-1
6-32.6 Punting 5-41.6
2-0 Fumbles-Lost 1-1
6-67 Penalties 6-53
Washington 14 0 0 0 — 14
West Craven 7 0 0 6 — 13
W — Travis Daniels 1 run (Justin Meekins kick), 1st, 6:00
W — Jamont Jones 37 pass from Austin Thompson (Meekins kick), 1st, 1:44
WC — Erik Highsmith 29 pass from Brett Mooring (Ryan Murphy kick), 1st, 1:09
WC — Jimmy Gross 59 pass from Mooring (pass failed), 4th, 1:20