Wildcats claim 4th straight win over Rebels
CALYPSO - Hobbton and North Duplin staged a frantic offensive start before fans could settle into their seats inside H.E. Grubbs Stadium on Friday evening.
Once the initial fireworks subsided, the Wildcats employed a balanced offensive attack and cruised 50-26 in the regular-season Carolina 1A finale for both teams.
“I thought our young men played extremely hard, gave us a chance to win the game,” North Duplin head coach Hugh Martin said. “I know the score ended up like it was [but] we had several chances to turn the tide for ourselves. We’re battling a lot of things injury-wise and what-not.
“For these young men to go out and do what they did, I feel good about it.”
Alzyion Smith put Hobbton on the board 38 seconds after kickoff with a 47-yard touchdown romp down the sideline.
After his score, the teams combined for 22 points over the next 12 minutes.
North Duplin forged ahead 7-6 on Luis Olivos’ 1-yard plunge and Branden Reyna’s PAT. Junior Bobby Dial answered for the Wildcats with a 2-yard run and Rebels junior Eli Morrisey responded with a four-yard scamper.
“Some of our running game early was clicking extremely well,” Martin said. “We were chewing up the clock and chewing up yardage.”
Martin praised his defense, particularly the senior tandem of Andrew Underhill and Brandon Batchelor. Hobbton double-teamed Underhill all evening, but he and Batchelor managed to clog up the gap to keep the shifty Dial from finding an open seam.
“His [Dial] vision is really good, follows the block and looks for that crease,” Martin said. “Andrew held his ground extremely well and so did Batchelor. They didn’t get pushed around up front. When we forced the ball there, we were able to shut down their running game some.”
Dial found running room after halftime.
His TD runs of 4 and 30 yards, along with Loden Bradshaw’s 15-yard scoring strike to Smith, capped a string of 22 consecutive points.
“Defensively, we really played extremely hard and I pleased with that aspect,” Martin said. “[The spread offense] is what they do, get you out in space and make plays out on the perimeter. Their run game is good enough inside that if you spread yourself too thin, you’re going to get hurt in the box.
“We tried to cover both aspects of it.”
The Rebels closed the gap to 36-26 on Landen Kelly’s 60-yard kickoff return and freshman quarterback Luke Kelly’s 72-yard bomb to Olivos.
Hobbton punched in two fourth-quarter touchdowns and claimed its fourth straight win in the series, which North Duplin leads 27-26.