by Becky Kimbrell-Norris
WAKEFIELD—Wakefield High School, with a strong defense, defeated Northern Durham 37-7 Friday night.
It was the Wolverines explosive offense in their opening game against Holly Springs that made the difference. Against the Knights, Wakefield turned up their efforts on defense, which caused the visitors to struggle offensively.
“Our defense played really well from the opening kick-off,” said Wakefield coach Rod Sink. “They were sharp and I’m very proud of their effort.”
The Wolverines defense forced their visitors to punt the ball on their first three possessions and rode that momentum to their second straight win.
Thanks too to Wakefield’s defense for giving their offense short field opportunities.
“Our defense was definitely the difference,” Sink said. “Last week we played soft on defense but against Northern Durham, I was very happy with the way we played.”
Senior defensive lineman Ray Gil was part of that potent defense and said a hard week of practice paid off defensively.
“We came out with a different mindset and our hard work at practice showed,” Gil said. “We knew what we had to do this week defensively and our mind set was the difference.”
Offensively, Wakefield was led by quarterback Evan Brabrand, who completed 13 of 25 passes for 171 yards to go along with two touchdown passes. He also ran for two scores.
Senior wide receiver Josh Lowery got Wakefield’s offense rolling when he caught a six-yard pass from Brabrand with 9:31 left in the first quarter.
Lowery had four catches for 66 yards.
“We can’t underestimate anyone,” Lowery said. “We take every opponent serious and I thought we came out and played much better than we did our opening game.”
“Our offense is clicking and I think Evan had some good reads tonight.”
Four minutes after the Wolverines first score, Brabrand and Jake Butler connected on a 12-yard touchdown and Kelton Whitehead scored on the two-point conversion run, giving the Wolverines a 14-0 lead.
Northern Durham started its next drive on their own 32 yard line and picked up a pair of first downs along the way. But their attempt on a third first down was stopped by Wakefield defensive back Mike Shelton, who deflected a pass by Knight’s quarterback Zaaqhai Mann.
Following an exchange of punts, the Wolverines added to its lead on a ten-yard touchdown run by Brabrand at the 5:00 mark in the second quarter.
Shelton killed any hopes of a Northern Durham score on a first down when he picked off Mann’s pass and raced back to Wakefield’s nine yard line. Two plays later, Whitehead ran in from three yards out and the Wolverines went up 28-0, a score which stood throughout halftime.
“Northern Durham has struggled through their first two games,” Sink said. “They have some good players and they’re improved.”
“There are some ways that we can become more efficient offensively,” Sink added. “I was disappointed that we had only one drive in the second half.”
The pattern continued into the second half with Wakefield’s defense continuing to bring the pressure and they caused a Knights fumble at the start of the third quarter.
The Wolverines offense capitalized four plays later as Charles Morris kicked a field goal to extend Wakefield’s lead to 31-0 with 9:45 left in the third quarter.
On their next possession, Northern Durham marched from its own 20 yard line to Wakefield’s 36 but a quarterback sack by Tevin Hargrove stopped the Knights threat.
Wakefield added to its lead via a touchdown run by Brabrand from about ten yards out. The Wolverines drove from their own 35 –yard line and picked up two first downs on runs by running back David Chavis.
The Knights finally cracked the scoreboard with about six minutes remaining in the game.
Even though his team dominated the Knights, Sink said there is a lot of learning left.
“We’re still learning who we are,” he said.
The Wolverines will travel to Southeast Raleigh, 1-3, tomorrow. The Bulldogs shut out Enloe 39-0 last week.
“They have played two really good teams out of the gate,” Sink said. “Their win against Enloe will give their players a lot of confidence.”
Sink said he is expecting Southeast Raleigh to give them a tough game.
“Knowing a win against us can put their season back on track will have them ready for us,” Sink said. “They match our speed and are probably a little bigger than our players but from what I have seen on film, we are fairly evenly matched.”
Kick-off is at 7 pm.