By David Allen
WAKE FOREST – Wake Forest dominated Friday night’s football game against Panther Creek. Allowing only 105 yards in 59 plays and a total of six first downs, it would have been a shutout if Panther Creek’s quarterback Brenden Magner hadn’t snuck in on an option to make it 6-23.
The Cougars entered their first game of the season at Panther Creek with a desire to achieve even greater heights than last year’s state runners-up. Heading their charge are the three linemen making up the front of the Cougars’ new 3-4 nickel defense.
Junior Dexter Lawrence, the defensive nose tackle, is 6-feet-5-inches and 313 pounds, senior Antwain Terry, the defensive end, is 6-feet-3-inches and 270 pounds, and sophomore defensive end Xavier Gill is 6-feet-5-inches and 270 pounds. These three giants make up the front line which, according to coach Reggie Lucas, makes or breaks the defensive spread.
“I think we’re well-balanced this year,” Lucas said. “I think the defense played as expected and controlled up front and allowed the linebackers to blitz in certain opportunities. For us to be good on defense, they have to be good up front.
The spread enables the Cougars a greater freedom of adaptive strategies as they showed at Panther Creek, creating an unpredictable lineup that the Catamounts were rarely able to break through.”
“[The 3-4] allows us to do that,” Lucas said. “They are the same three guys that played last year so they have the experience. They understand the defense so when we go to spread offensive we can have more guys covering the pass.”
The defensive prowess showed by the front line more than compensated for the penalties, but the trio is slow to take sole credit for their skill.
“We practice hard every week and try to do our best,” Terry said for the group on Monday. “We hang out together off the field which gives us chemistry.”
Lawrence and Gill agreed, saying it takes all of them working together in the weight room, pushing each other in practice and relying on their coaches to bring them to their peak potential.
Panther Creek discovered this the hard way and was repeatedly crushed during the first half, with their defense not faring much better. The Cougars’ abnormally high number of simple errors resulted in penalties holding back their forward push more than anything.
“I’m proud of the way we played defensively, no doubt,” Lucas said. “I’m very disappointed in the number of penalties we had in this
football game. To be a good team
we need that straightened out quick.”
But the offense wasn’t without its own stars. Running back Bryce Love, a five-foot-ten 178-pound senior scored three touchdowns, one of which was called back due to a foul. Love, senior Jamal Sweet and junior Tyri Beard make up the speed in the Cougars’ offensive backfield for which Wake Forest is always known.