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Friday truly was Senior Night at Havelock High School, as Ram upperclassmen turned in big play after big play in a 57-0 Coastal 3A Conference victory over Swansboro.
Senior running backs Derrell Scott and Taylor Woods tallied scores, and senior twins Jordan and Julian Cuthbertson each recovered a fumble. Junior Matthew Boykin scored three touchdowns.
Havelock coach Jim Bob Bryant said he got choked up when he brought up his seniors to the front of the locker room before the game.
“Every one of them that dressed out tonight started and played key roles in the game,” Bryant said. “It’s a great group of seniors, and we’re really going to miss them not only as players, but also as people and leaders of our football team.”
And it was senior Julian Cuthbertson who got the top-ranked Rams (8-0, 3-0) going early, recovering a fumble when Swansboro (5-3, 1-2) tried a hook-and-ladder trick play on its first offensive play.
“I saw him catch the ball, and he tried to pitch it, so I just hit him before he could pitch it and the ball landed on the ground,” Julian Cuthbertson said. “I noticed it and just jumped on it.”
The fumble recovery helped set up Travis Sabdo’s 31-yard touchdown pass to Kyran Bowman for Havelock’s opening score just 1:37 into the game.
Boykin returned a Swansboro punt 51 yards for a touchdown, and Joey Godette then tackled Swansboro’s Deandre Thompkins in the end zone for a safety, giving Havelock a 15-0 lead. After the free kick, Sabdo threw 10 yards to Boykin for a 22-0 Havelock lead after the first quarter. Sabdo was 11 of 19 for 162 yards and three TDs.
“I thought we played really well, offense, defense and special teams,” Bryant said. “We scored in all three phases again. Defense got a safety, we had a punt return for a touchdown and scored on offense. Anytime you get a special teams touchdown and defensive points, that’s usually pretty good.”
Jordan Cuthbertson recovered his fumble in the second quarter, setting up Derrell Scott’s 14-yard touchdown run.
“The receiver ran an out route and caught it,” he said. “I tried to come in and make the hit. I wrapped the guy up, and I thought the play was over, and I turned around and saw the ball laying there spinning, and I just jumped on it before it went out of bounds.”
Woods added a 3-yard TD run as Havelock led 36-0 at halftime.
“That’s a back-to-back state championship team for a reason,” Swansboro coach Tim Laspada said. “They’re a great coaching staff over there, probably one of the better ones in the state, and Coach Bryant has them going good, and I wish them the best.”
In the third quarter, Sabdo threw 19 yards to Boykin for a score, and Taron Wallace and Montrece Gatling added rushing touchdowns, providing the final margin in Havelock’s 22nd consecutive victory.
Scott led the Rams with 194 yards rushing on 18 carries, part of Havelock’s 374 rushing yards. Boykin caught six passes for 63 yards.
Havelock’s defense surrendered just 26 total yards and three first downs in posting its fourth shutout of the season.
Bryant gave credit to his players and assistant coaches.
“My assistant coaching staff does a great job,” Bryant said. “I’ve got the best assistant coaching staff in the state. Offensive assistants, defensive assistants — those guys come to work every week, put in long hours with little pay, but I’ve got a great staff and they do a great job getting our players ready to play each week.”
For Havelock’s seniors, it was their 50th victory on an emotional night.
“I’m just happy for our seniors,” Bryant said. “I’ve got a good group of seniors, good leaders, and all of them are great kids. I made sure I told them in the locker room that I’ve never had a call from a teacher about any of those guys cutting up in class. I’ve never had to worry about their grades. I’ve never had to worry about them getting in trouble in school. They’re just a real good core group of seniors, and we’re going to miss them.”
Havelock is scheduled to play White Oak at 7 p.m. Friday in Jacksonville.
Swansboro 0 0 0 0 —0
Havelock 22 14 21 0 —57
H – Kyran Bowman, 31-yard pass from Travis Sabdo, Dylan Baker kick, 10:23
H – Matthew Boykin, 51-yard punt return, kick failed, 8:15
H – Deandre Thompkins tackled in end zone for safety, 3:21
H – Boykin, 10-yard pass from Sabdo, Baker kick, 1:08
H – Derrell Scott, 14-yard run, Baker kick, 6:59
H – Taylor Woods, 3-yard run, Baker kick, 3:45
H – Boykin, 19-yard pass from Sabdo, Baker kick, 10:25
H – Taron Wallace, 24-yard run, Baker kick, 7:50
H – Montrece Gatling, 3-yard run, Baker kick, :45