• Kurt Ward

Strong Second Half Propels Eastern Alamance Over Williams

Eastern Alamance took over the driver’s seat in the Central Carolina 3-A Conference Friday night, surging ahead in the third quarter for a 47-26 victory over Williams.

The Eastern Eagles (4-1 overall) scored three times in the first six minutes of the third quarter, breaking open what had been a close game in the first half. Sophomore Josh Murray scored on runs of 54 and 44 yards in those early stages of the second half. Murray finished the night with 161 yards on 16 carries.

“Josh Murray is on a mission,” Eastern Coach John Kirby said. “He played one heck of a football game.”

Murray’s big third quarter runs came as the Eastern Alamance offensive line pushed the Williams defense aside to open running lanes for the 5-8, 168-pound Murray. Both TD runs came on counter plays in which Murray took the handoff and then quickly shifted direction from right to left.

“Our offensive line did a great job of giving him (Murray) some great seams to run in,” Kirby explained. “Josh is running the ball hard. If he gets a seam, he gets in it.”

Sandwiched between Murray’s two rushing scores was a 51-yard return of a fumble by Eastern’s Dontrell Lee. On that play, Williams quarterback Jaelan Brown hit tight end Coleman Mahan on the left side. Mahan was hit by a host of Eastern defenders, and the ball popped free as he was going to the turf. Lee picked up the loose ball near mid-field and scamped to the end zone.

The victory moves the Eagles to 2-0 in the Central Carolina Conference and gives Williams its first defeat in league play. Before the game, Kirby said this game could decide this year’s conference champion.

“As coaches, you look on paper and think about various scenarios,” Kirby said. “…We felt like the conference championship would have to run through Burlington Williams and Western Alamance. And we had them back-to-back.”

The win was the second in a row in conference play for Eastern, as well as the second in a row against an Alamance County opponent. The Eagles defeated Western Alamance 40-21 last week.

Friday’s game marked the first time that Williams Head Coach Patrick Stokes had faced his mentor and former team. Stokes is in his first year at the helm for the Bulldogs (3-4, 2-1) after spending 17 seasons as an assistant at Eastern Alamance.

In the opening half, it appeared as if Stokes had his Bulldogs ready for the Eagles.

After a scoreless first quarter in which both teams exchanged interceptions, the Bulldogs got on the scoreboard first when Izayah Ramsey caught a 7-yard pass from Brown at the goal line. Ramsey ended the night with eight catches for 120 yards. Three of his receptions went for TDs.

“Eastern has a great team,” Ramsey said following the game. “We didn’t get the outcome we wanted tonight, but we know we are getting better. … With Coach Stokes, we are becoming a family. We are committed to Williams, committed to each other, and committed to getting better.”

Stokes said his team “wore out.”

“It was a combination of us not being real strong right now and not being real deep right now,” Stokes said. “But our kids fought for four quarters. Our kids didn’t quit one bit. That tells me we are moving in the right direction.”

Both offenses moved the ball well.

Eastern’s Douglas completed 17 of his 23 passes for 221 yards. He also carried the ball seven times for 26 yards.

His counterpart, Williams QB Brown, completed 16 of his 23 passes for 198 yards.

Alijah Richmond was the Bulldogs’ top ground gainer, carrying the ball 17 times for 76 yards and one TD.

The two teams played to a 21-19 halftime score thanks to a flurry of scoring at the end of the second quarter. Both teams scored twice in the final 3:14 of the half.

Williams will have next Friday off before traveling to Western Alamance Oct. 15.

Eastern’s next conference game is also Oct. 15. The Eagles will travel to Roxboro-Person for that contest.

Eastern Alamance 0 21 19 7 - 47

Williams 0 19 7 0 - 26

Williams – Izayah Ramsey 7 pass from Jaelan Brown (Brick Bowen kick), 11:16 left in the second

Eastern – Cedarion Williams 20 pass from Hunter Douglas (Karsyn Johnson kick), 5:28 left in the second

Williams – Alijah Richmond 1 run (kick blocked), 3:14 left in the second

Eastern – Hunter Douglas 3 run (Johnson kick), 2:12 left in the second

Eastern – Devin Clark 24 pass from Douglas (Johnson kick), 0:42 left in the second

Williams – Ramsey 10 pass from Brown (pass failed), 0:00 left in the second

Eastern – Josh Murray 54 run (kick failed), 11:11 left in the third

Eastern – Dontrell Lee 51 fumble return (kick failed), 8:41 left in the third

Eastern – Murray 44 run (Johnson kick), 6:48 left in the third

Williams – Ramsey 30 pass from Brown (Bowen kick), 3:34 left in the third

Eastern – Triston Keck 8 pass from Douglas (Johnson kick), 9:42 left in the fourth

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