Penalties prove costly for Pam Pack

Published 1:51 am Saturday, October 6, 2018

From the Kinston Free Press

AYDEN — On a hotter-than-usual October night, Ayden-Grifton won their conference opener on their homecoming night against Washington to make head coach Paul Cornwell the winningest coach in school history, 24-15.

The win made Paul Cornwell the all time win leader in school history with 121 wins.

On a night with five turnovers for the Chargers (4-2, 1-0 2A Eastern Carolina Conference), the defense took center stage as they made the plays necessary to win, including a safety.

“Our defense kept fighting, kept answering the ball,” Cornwell said. “We managed to, even with the turnovers, to get it taken care of. But we got a lot of work to do. Five turnovers? You can’t win a conference championship turning the ball over, but we’re a work in progress.”

The big star on offense and defense was Ray Darden. The senior running back/ linebacker went over 100 yards rushing and had two touchdowns.

“He’s a leader,” Cornwell said. “He’s a senior. He did what is expected, so I mean when you give him the ball you expect him to do those kind of things. He was huge for us, he picked us up.”

Darden’s biggest play came on the last drive. The Pam Pack (2-4, 0-2 2A ECC) had a touchdown on fourth and long called back. At the 40-yard line, the Chargers took over, and in three rushes Darden carried the Washington defense into the end zone to finish the game.

“It had to be done,” Darden said. “I was just thinking like if they score and hit a 2-point conversion they’re back in this game. One little score, one little catch could get their momentum going. I just wanted step up and shut it out, and make sure they had no possible chance of coming back.”

The Pam Pack drops to last place in conference. Washington was heavily affected by flags as two touchdowns by star senior Kaci Foreman were called back, which was ultimately the deciding factor in the win.

“It tears my heart up to see all of his big plays called back tonight,” head coach Jon Blank said. “He put it all out there on the field, and it seemed like every big situation came backwards even though he ended up in the end zone. He’s torn up about it. He feels like he did enough to help us win this game and we didn’t win the game.”

Washington has their homecoming next week and will welcome in the struggling South Lenoir (1-4, 0-1 2A ECC) team.

“It’s our goal to win the last four games, get into the playoffs, and see what happens because I think we can be a dangerous playoff team,” Blank said. “We’ve got a little bit to work on; a little bit to get better at. A little bit to grow up on, but it’s week by week at this point.”