When Havelock had a pre-season scrimmage against Topsail back in August, Micheal Bowman took a screen pass 80 yards for a touchdown. Rams coach Jim Bob Bryant wasn’t about to mess with that kind of success.
Bowman scored on the exact same pass on the first play of the game, as the top-ranked Rams eased through the first round of the state 3A playoffs with a 48-0 victory over the Pirates Friday at Havelock High.
“That was the first play we ran during the scrimmage and it went for 80 yards and a touchdown, so I told the guys it was going to be our first play from scrimmage tonight,” Bryant said. “When they lined up in the scrimmage, we thought we could get that on the first play, and then they lined up the same way tonight. We made some blocks, and Mo broke a couple of tackles and broke it big.”
For his part, Bowman knew as soon as he caught the pass from quarterback Travis Sabdo that he would be able to score on the 54-yard catch and run.
“When I first caught the ball, I just saw the open field,” said Bowman, who was able to jog the final 20 yards into the end zone. “We just worked together. The line helped out, allowed the quarterback to be open and make plays for us.”
On Havelock’s next series, Sabdo scrambled right and connected with Bowman on a 25-yard touchdown, giving the Rams (12-0) a 13-0 lead just four minutes into the contest.
“It was just a post right down the middle of the field,” Bowman said.
Topsail picked up a couple of first downs on its next possession and pinned the Rams at their own 2-yard line with a punt. However, Havelock turned to Taylor Woods as the wildcat quarterback and marched 98 yards down the field, getting a 6-yard touchdown run from Derrell Scott for a 20-0 lead with 11:30 left in the second quarter.
“No matter where we had the ball in that situation, we were going to run the wildcat to practice it,” Bryant said. “Taylor did a great job running the offense. The line did a good job blocking, and it allowed us to work on some things that we needed to work on that we’re probably going to need some time later in the playoffs.”
Havelock’s Jordan Cuthbertson returned an interception 23 yards for a touchdown, Sabdo threw to Kyran Bowman for a 46-yard score, and Scott added a 31-yard TD run, giving the Rams a 41-0 halftime lead.
“At times we didn’t play bad, but we made mistakes that they turned into big plays,” Topsail coach Wayne Inman said. “We moved the ball well sometimes, but the key was we needed to stay on the field offensively, and we didn’t do that.”
With the Rams playing reserves in the second half, Woods ran 93 yards for a touchdown to start the third quarter. For the game, Woods had 163 yards rushing on just seven carries.
Scott, who was presented his Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl jersey before the game, ran nine times for 102 yards, part of an offense that produced 342 yards on the ground.
Through the air, Sabdo was 8 of 9 passing for 164 yards and three touchdowns.
“We played well as a team,” Micheal Bowman said. “Basically, we just came out and played our game.”
Josh Jessup had 19 carries for 101 yards rushing to lead a Topsail team that mustered 253 total yards, much of it in the second half when the game was no longer in doubt.
“We wanted to move the ball on offense, and we didn’t want to punt,” Bryant said. “Our defense kept them out of the end zone. Our second-team offense moved the ball, and our second-team defense kept them out of the end zone. Most of those guys are freshmen and sophomores, so I thought they did a really, good job, and of course our starters played well and did a really good job.”
With the victory, Havelock advances to the second round to play Anson next week at Havelock High. Anson (6-6), the No. 9 seed in the playoffs, defeated eighth-seeded Southern Guilford (6-6) 23-20.