ELIZABETHTOWN — The fifth annual Buddy Burney Memorial Football Jamboree came to Lenon Fisher Stadium on Friday, and gave both host East Bladen and visiting West Bladen one final tune up under game conditions before the 2014 regular season opens.
It was also an opportunity for the Eagles and Knights to see some players compete who may complete and/or move up on the depth chart as the season progresses.
The format gave each team 10 plays on offense and 10 plays on defense starting at the 40 yard-line, rotating that way through the first 45 minutes of what became the scrimmage’s first half. In the second half, the teams operated under a regular four-down format with first downs extending the possession and touchdowns giving the ball back to the other team.
For Bladen County football fans, there was plenty to be optimistic about for both East Bladen and West Bladen.
The Eagles faced a spread offense St.Pauls team, and managed to dominate with a solid pass rush and strong ground game. East Bladen outscored the Bulldogs 5-1 in the first half and 3-0 in the second half to seal an 8-1 win.
The Knights matched up against West Columbus, which showed a balanced offensive attack. West Bladen outscored the Vikings 5-2 in the first half and 3-2 in the second half to wrap up an 8-4 win. And it could have been a bigger margin, but the Knights had three touchdowns called back.
The Eagles opened the scrimmage with nine straight run plays that featured a 15-yard scramble by Ty McMillian off a huge block by Larrell Murchison and a 5-yard touchdown run by Farrell MurchisonL
St. Pauls responded with their lone touchdown of the night on the fifth play of the series, a 30-yard run to the endzone.
East Bladen’s second possession saw a 10-yard run by Farrell Murchison, a 10-yard run by Larrell Murchison followed by a 16-yard run by Farrell Mucdhison and a 13-yard touchdown run by Demond Gamble. On the very next play, Ethan Hines ran for a 40-yard touchdown and, two plays later, Isaiah Young ran 40 yards for another touchdown.
St. Pauls couldn’t move the ball on offense and, on their 10th play, Nikita Owens picked off a Bulldogs pass.
The Eagles then brought in its second team offense with Alex Coates in at quarterback and got a 10-yard run from Kyle Tatum and, three plays later, an 11-yard touchdown run by Hines.
The East Bladen defense then gave St. Pauls almost nothing. The series was highlighted by a big tackle for loss by Derrick Burney.
In the second half, the Eagles had their series stopped on a McMillian interception, but the Bulldogs couldn’t move thanks to a sack by East Bladen’s Larrell Murchison.
On their next possession, the Eagles got a 10-yard run by Young, a 15-yard run by Farrell Murchison and then a 15-yard touchdown run by McMillian. Jesus Ramos booted the extra point.
After holding St. Pauls to four and out, East Bladen got a 24-yard pass from McMillian to Young and a 14-yard run by Young to the 2. Farrell Murchison finished the drive with a 2-yard score and Ramos tacked on the PAT.
The Bulldogs sputtered again on offense and Burney’s sack all but saddled St. Pauls with another four and out.
East Bladen ran four plays on offense and couldn’t score, and St. Pauls was stopped on its next series when Malik McKoy intercepted a pass.
The Eagles took advantage, getting an 11-yard run from Farrell Murchison to open the series and a 22-yard touchdown run to finish the series with a score. Ramos again kicked the point after.
St. Pauls finished the game with one first down on a 15-yard pass, but could not score.
“There were some little things here and there on both sides of the ball, but it was about like we expected,” said East Bladen coach Robby Priest. “We’re getting there. We were physical and the pass defense got better — plus we rushed the quarterback well.”
The Eagles open the season by hosting Fairmont on Friday night.
The Knights took one on the chin in the scrimmage’s first play, as West Columbus scored on a 40-yard touchdown run. But over the next nine plays, West Bladen gave up very little and saw Trevor Lesane pick off a pass and Daquan Lennon get a tackle behind the line of scrimmage.
West Bladen answered quickly on offense when Malcolm Vaught swept the right side for 12 yards and Kesean Sutton scored on a 28-yard run. Two plays later, Lennon scored on a long run, but the play was called back. West Bladen drove to the 1 on a pair of runs by Malik McDowell, but a fumble stopped the drive.
On defense, the Knights got a fumble recovered by Dorrell Powell and sack by Brandon Council to stymie the Vikings.
West Bladen took over on offense and three runs drove to the 1, where Vaught ran in the score. On the next play, a 40-yard pass play from Colby Lewis to Stefan McDonald found the endzone. Lewis then hooked up with McDowell on a 20-yard pass play and, after an interception, Lennon ran 40 yards for a touchdown that was called back to end the series.
West Columbus had trouble getting its offense started, thanks in part to a tackle for loss by Matthew Sturgill and a joibnt sack by Sturgill and Jeremiah Purdie. But the Vikings did manage to get a 35-yard touchdown pass before the series was over.
The Knights brought McDonald in at quarterback and quickly got a 40-yard touchdown run by Sutton. On the next play, Lesane ran for another 40-yard score, but it was called back on a penalty. After a sack, Purdie ran 25 yards and, five plays later, McDonald ran to the 2 and Logan Slacks took it in from there to end the first half.
West Bladen opened the second half on offense and needed just three plays to score, this time on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Lewis to Vaught.
The Knights got three sacks against West Columbus to keep the Vikings out of the endzone, then needed only two plays on offense to score when Lennon ran for 20 yards and Lewis hit a wide open McDonald for a 20-yard touchdown.
The Vikings went four runs and out and, when West Bladen took over, a first down led to a 35-yard touchdown run by Derrick Grant.
West Columbus answered on its next series. After Powell recorded a sack for the Knights, West Columbus got a 30-yard touchdown pass.
West Bladen had a 25-yard run from Lennon on its next possession, but two fumbles ended the series and the Vikings took advantage. Two passes, the first for 10 yards followed by a 30-yarder, gave West Columbus a touchdown to finish the night.
“Our sweeps were working well all night, which means we wree blocking well,” said West Bladen coach Russell Dove. “But we had a lot of little stupid things, too. We have a lot to work on — the defense has to swarm and tackle better, and we had a couple blown pass coverages.”
West Bladen opens the season Friday on the road at South Robeson.