Sharpe runs for 244 yards and two touchdowns in 42-0 victory

With an already slim margin of error for New Hanover going up against Havelock, which has been to the 3A state title game four years in a row, the Wildcats’ start to the game didn’t help their cause.

The Wildcats fumbled the opening kickoff, had a two-yard punt and threw an interception in its first four possessions and allowed a touchdown pass on the last second of the first half. Havelock took advantage of the mistakes, eventually pulling away for a 42-0 nonleague win Friday at Legion Stadium.

“We didn’t really capitalize on the fumble out of the gate because we didn’t score,” Havelock coach Jim Bob Bryant said. “It should have been 35-0 in the first half. Instead it was 21-0.”

The Wildcats (2-1) were fortunate to go into halftime down only 21-0 and almost went to the locker room with a shorter deficit. Burke Estes’ fourth-down pass was tipped with 35 seconds to play at the Havelock 31-yard line. The Rams (3-0) took over and quickly ran to midfield in two plays.

After a pass interference penalty gave the Rams the ball at the New Hanover 32-yard line, Corey Cooper threw to Trey Owens, who was wide open down the sideline for a touchdown as time expired.

“If we got a great run on first down, we were gonna call a timeout and try to move down the field,” Bryant said. “Corey Cooper made two great passes.”

Before that, the Rams opened the game with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Cooper to Taquan Green for a 7-0 lead four plays after a New Hanover punt. The Wildcat defense held on two occasions, after a fumble on the opening kickoff and after a two-yard punt on a misguided quarterback kick on fourth down quick.

The last-second first half touchdown propelled the Rams, who scored two more third-quarter touchdowns after a 30-minute weather delay. Sharpe from three yards and Cooper from 12 extended the lead to 35-0 by the end of the third.

“Our team is built on a strong offensive and defensive line,” Bryant said. “That’s something we stressed all summer.”

Boxscore

H 7 14 14 7 -- 42

NH 0 0 0 0 -- 0

First quarter

H: Corey Cooper 16 pass to Taquan Green (John Mills kick) 8:03

Second quarter

H: Tony Sharpe 64 run (Mills kick) 11:49

H: Cooper 32 pass to Trey Owens (Mills kick) :00

Third quarter

H: Sharpe 3 run (Mills kick) 8:19

H: Cooper 12 run (Mills kick) :00

Fourth quarter

H: Montrece Gatling 3 run (Mills kick) 5:21

Individual Statistics

Rushing

H: Tony Sharpe 19-244, Corey Cooper 13-100, Montrece Gatling 7-50, Trey Owens 3-34

NH: Trequan Age 13-35, Wiz Vaughn 2-22, Javeon Hall 5-15 Freddie Taylor 2- (-2)

Passing

H: Corey Cooper 4-7-1 59

NH: Burke Estes 26-37-2 191

Receiving

H: Trey Owens 1-32, Taquan Green 1-16, Keion Joyner 1-8, Montrece Gatling 1-3

NH: Trequan Age 7-41, Wiz Vaughn 6-63, Garrett Walston 6-49, Lamont Howard 3-15, Shammond Grainger 1-12, Freddie Taylor 1-5, Carl Scott 1-5, Javeon Hall 1-1

Vince Narin is a reporter for the Star News in Wilmington.