Eagles beat Rams for first time since 2008

HAVELOCK | West Craven stole the crown that Havelock has been wearing for the past seven seasons.

The West Craven Eagles put a stop to that with a 28-21 win over Havelock in a game that was started on Oct. 6, suspended, and finally ended Monday evening at Havelock High.

“This team is special. That comes from senior leadership,” said West Craven coach Mike Twichell. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen them quit in anything they do. They’ve been on the other side of this game before, as freshmen, as sophomores and they stayed within the process and kept getting better.

“It paid off for us.”

The Eagles (8-0, 4-0 Coastal 3-A) ended a seven-game losing streak to Havelock, and in the process snapped the Rams 35-game conference win streak. The victory puts West Craven in line for the league championship and a top seed in the state playoffs later this year.

It was West Craven’s first win over Havelock since 2008 – the year the Eagles made it to the state championship game in Coach Clay Jordan’s final season.

“There’s been a little bad blood between these schools over the years. It’s two really good football teams. I’m glad we are back to where Coach (Clay) Jordan had us,” Twichell said.

“It’s great for the community. I’ve had unbelievable support from the time I took this job.”

Quarterback Jarred Arthur’s 14-yard touchdown run with 3:12 remaining pushed West Craven to a 28-21 lead.

“It’s great. It wasn’t planned. I just saw green and I went for it. It worked out for me,” Arthur said. “It’s real special. We have a senior-heavy group. We get on each other and that comes from experience.”

West Craven’s defense then forced Havelock’s offense to turn the ball over on downs, and took control of the ball at the Rams’ 25-yard line with 1:33 to go.

On third-and-short, Darious Abrams converted the first down on a five-yard run.

“When we called a timeout, I told the coach in the huddle to give me the ball and I will get the first down,” Abrams said.

Havelock assistant Matt Handley, speaking for head coach Jim Bob Bryant who has been refusing media requests for interviews since last month, gave credit to the Eagles.

"Our hat's off to them. They played really awesome," Handley said. "I thought they executed really well. Their defense gets after it, and their offense has a lot of really skilled players. It's nothing we didn't know coming in. They are a very good football team."

Handley said the Rams still had a lot to play for this season, including a Friday homecoming game against Swansboro.

"It's a senior-led group, so the hope is that they will step up," he said. "The season is not over because of one loss. The season shouldn't be defined by one loss.  We'll see how they respond. For a lot of them, this is the first time something like this has happened."

Havelock took a 21-14 lead after the first play of the fourth quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run by Soloman Beligotti.

The Eagles answered as Arthur hooked up with Abrams for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the two-yard line.

West Craven’s Claron Mims stripped Havelock quarterback Corey Cooper and Grant Dizon recovered it, which set up the Eagles’ game-winning score.

“We needed it. We were facing a whole lot of adversity and I had to do something. We wanted to get that win,” Mims said.

West Craven led 7-0 at halftime on Oct. 6 as JonQuez Green scored a rushing touchdown following a shanked Havelock punt in the first quarter.

The game was suspended for 2 1/2 weeks because of the effects from Hurricane Matthew. A collection was set up Monday at the school for storm relief supplies, and the two teams both gathered at midfield together for a prayer before kickoff

When the game resumed, Cooper tied the game for Havelock with a 1-yard touchdown run, capitalizing on a fumbled punt by West Craven.

The Eagles fumbled the next kickoff, and Havelock recovered, ultimately resulting in a 26-yard touchdown run from Cooper to put the Rams up 14-7.

Abrams, West Craven’s senior playmaker, caught a 13-yard pass with 1:57 to go in the third quarter to knot the score at 14-14.

“In games like this, you rely on the playmakers. When we needed big plays, we went to Darious Abrams and Jarred Arthur,” Twichell said.

Arthur passed for 189 yards with two touchdowns, and West Craven gained 250 yards on offense.

“When we come out there on the field, there are not many defenses that are going to stop our offense,” Abrams said. “The only way we are going to be stopped is if we stop ourselves from scoring.”

Cooper passed for 168 yards for Havelock. The Rams racked up 271 yards of offense.

Havelock (7-1, 3-1) plays host to Swansboro on Friday. West Craven plays host to Jacksonville.

“This is special. This is the same team that was undefeated in middle school. We knew this day was going to happen,” Mims said.

Meanwhile for the Rams, they feel they may just see the Eagles again this season in the state playoffs.

"They're a really good football team, so if we keep winning and they keep winning, we'll most likely run in to each other," Handley said.

West Craven 28, Havelock 21

West Craven  7    0     7   14 –  28

Havelock       0    0   14    7 – 21

First quarter

WC – JonQuez Green 2 run (kick good), 6:39

Third quarter

H – Corey Cooper 1 run (Christian Hoomana kick), 4:41

H – Cooper 26 run (Hoomana kick), 3:07

WC – Darious Abrams 13 pass from Jarred Arthur (kick good), 1:57

Fourth quarter

H – Beligotti 2 run (Hoomana kick), 11:56

WC – Abrams 2 pass from Arthur (kick good), 6:53

WC – Arthur 1 run (kick good), 3:12

Team stats

                                 WC        H

First down                 16          17

Rush-yards              26-61    43-103

Passing yards           189         168

Comp.-Att.-Int.     14-28-1    10-30-1

Totals yards             250         271

Punt-Ave.               6-39.2     6-39.0

Fumble-lost              4-2         1-1

Penalties-yards        11-81     13-106

Individual stats

Passing: West Craven: Jarred Arthur 14-28-1 189 2 TD; Havelock: Corey Cooper 10-30-1 168.

Rushing: West Craven: JonQuez Green 14-22 TD, Jaquel Whitehead 3-18, Jarred Arthur 6-13, Darius Abrams 3-8; Havelock: Cameron Hutchinson 6-36, Cooper 19-30 2 TD, Tony Sharpe 13-22, Montrece Gatling 2-9, Soloman Beligotti 2-5 TD, Johnquarious Harris 1-2. 

Receiving: West Craven: Darious Abrams 4-58 2 TD, Eric Best 2-43, Jaylen Franks 2-34, Jaquel Whitehead 2-21, Peejay Thompson 4-33; Havelock: Khalil Barrett 4-73, Christian Capps 1-51, Quinzel Lockhart 4-31, Welton Spottsville 1-13.

Adam Thompson is the sports editor at the Sun Journal. He can be contacted at 252-635-5669. Follow Adam on Twitter @A_ThompsonNBSJ