OXFORD — Some stout bend-but-don’t-break defensive play powered J.F. Webb to a 41-0 shutout of visiting Carrboro in the Warriors’ Homecoming night game on Friday.
Senior running back Javon Bullock scored on Webb’s second play from scrimmage, and by the game’s end had added two more touchdowns. Quarterback Braden Cooper scored twice on keepers, Jaylan Hester ran it in after recovering a Carrboro fumble of the second-half kickoff, and kicker Ikeem Hunt converted five of his six extra-point tries.
But the defense set the tone, putting Carrboro into numerous second-and-long situations and keeping the visitors on the back foot for the entire first half.
Jaguars quarterback Calvin Martin and head coach Ken Lathan were able to generate some momentum in the third quarter by working over the left side of the Webb secondary, but the Warriors defense stiffened in the red zone and stuffed consecutive fourth-down plays to regain possession.
“The defense played great,” Webb head coach Lamont Robinson said after the game. “I think the front seven, they did a great job, a phenomenal job. Some young guys stepped up this week, which we’ve got to see. They just have got to keep working to get better every week, but this is a result of a great week of practice.”
The evening’s work by the defense included two downfield pass break-ups by sophomore Daymion Williams, the second of which was a highlight play in the third quarter that kept Martin and receiver Ryan Becker from hooking up on a fly pattern that would have taken the Jaguars deep into Webb territory.
Lineman Kaelen Smith also had a big game, his evening’s work including a second-quarter sack of Martin on a third-and-three play that snuffed out a Carrboro drive before it ever really got going.
But perhaps the night’s most surprising development was that Robinson elected to open up the offense a bit in the first half.
Webb’s opening play of the evening was an attempted pass to a slotted Jaheim Heartsfield that the two had executed during pre-game warm-ups. The in-game attempt fell incomplete, but it gave the Carrboro defense something to think about before the next play went to Bullock for a 56-yard touchdown run.
Bullock’s second touchdown was a 95-yard first-quarter run that negated an exchange of punts that had gone heavily in Carrboro’s favor. Early in the second quarter, Cooper tried a pass to Hunt, but after it fell incomplete, he elected to call Bullock’s number again for a set-up run, and then called his own on a first-and-goal keeper touchdown from the 5.
Smith’s sack of Martin helped get the Warriors some decent field position, which they quickly bettered when Cooper hooked up with toe-tapping receiver Donnell Jefferson on a 35-yard pass play down the right sideline.
That drive petered out, but the play helped make a point that Robinson hopes will pay dividends for the Warriors later this season.
“We definitely want to open it up,” he said. “We’re always going to be a triple-option team, but we do have to open our offense up, especially as we move on in conference play. We’ve got a really tough game [against Southern Durham] next week. I know they’re going to load the box, and they’re going to be fast, so we’ve got to make them pay if they come inside. We’ve got to be able to throw the ball some.”
After halftime’s Homecoming festivities and Hester’s run-back of the fumbled kickoff return, Carrboro finally managed to generate some momentum with a long drive that carried the Jaguars to the Webb 7-yard line. Martin kept looking or rolling to his right, often finding receiver Karon Johnson loose in the Warriors secondary. Carrboro seemed likely to score, but after reaching the red zone, its best-chance play resulted in a dropped third-down pass in the end zone.
Lathan elected to go for it on fourth down, but Heartsfield blew up both the play and Jags receiver James Carey with a big hit as Carey turned upfield. The officials ruled there was helmet-to-helmet contact, and after stepping off half the distance to the goal line allowed Carrboro to replay the down. But Martin fumbled the snap, and the Webb defense was there to make sure the Jaguars surrendered a 21-yard loss on the play along with possession.
A 72-yard run by Bullock and another keeper from Cooper concluded the night’s scoring, and despite finding something that worked for one drive, Carrboro never threatened again.
“We’ve got some young cornerbacks, guys that never played before. So they just have got to learn,” Robinson said of Carrboro’s longest drive. “We always talk about alignment, assignment, execution, and we weren’t getting the first phase right. We weren’t lining up correctly. So our alignment was wrong, and they were taking advantage of our alignment. But once we got them coached up — the assistant coaches started coaching the guys up — we corrected it and were able to get in good position.”
Robinson added that Cooper, a junior, “made some great reads” running the option and is “starting to come along,” with the next major step being to work on his downfield reads.
Friday’s result improved Webb’s record to 3-2 overall and 2-0 in the Northern Lakes Athletic Conference. The Warriors share the conference lead with Vance County and Southern Durham. Their next two games are on the road, at Southern Durham on Friday at 7 p.m. and at South Granville in Creedmoor on Oct. 22.
Contact Ray Gronberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 252-436-2850.