Yellow Jackets storm Vikings, 56-13
Lee County played well on offense and defense Friday night against homecoming guest Union Pines.
There's three phases to the game, though, and special teams play spurred the Yellow Jackets (6-2, 2-1) to a 56-13 rout over the Vikings (4-4, 1-2).
It wasn't even the Jacket returners who did most of the work. Junior defensive end/wide receiver John Nguyen had the special night. As a lineman on the punt return unit, Nguyen recovered a blocked punt for the first score of the night. Shortly before halftime, Nguyen scooped up a shanked, bouncing punt and ran 10 yards for a touchdown leading to a 28-6 Yellow Jacket lead at halftime.
Lee County kept rolling with four touchdowns in the third quarter to put the Cape Fear Valley victory away. Jerry Pullum ran for two touchdowns and passed to Nolan Groce for another. Groce also rushed for a touchdown.
The Jacket defense opened with a three-and-out, with two Viking incomplete passes in the first series. After punting the Vikings down inside the Lee County 10, the Jacket defense got the job done again forcing a punt from the end zone.
Pressley Hales rushed off the left side of the Viking line and blocked the punt. Nguyen picked up the bouncing ball and stepped into the end zone.
The Vikings moved into Jacket territory with their next possession, then converted a fourth down with Max Yates getting it on a quarterback sneak. On the next set of downs, Lee County held on a 4th-and-4.
Pullum and Groce steadily marched the Jackets down the field until quarterback Duane' Bland faked a toss and sprinted 17 yards for a touchdown. Ian Frye's extra point gave Lee County a 14-0 lead with 0:48 left in the quarter.
The next Jacket drive was all Pullum and needed just three plays. Pullum broke a 24-yard run, then a couple snaps later, dashed through a hole up the middle for a 19-yard touchdown run.
The Vikings got on the board with the ensuing possession. Senior safety/wide receiver Phillip Hall lined up as a quarterback a few times during the night and his 29-yard run set the Vikings up inside the Jacket 10. Robert Collins took a pitch going left and scored on a 6-yard run.
The Viking defense managed a stop but three penalties killed the next Viking possession, winding up with the Vikings punting near the goal line again. A bobbled snap, then a hurried effort to kick the ball anywhere led to a ground ball near the line of scrimmage and Nguyen getting the return for a touchdown.
Lee County kept finding creative ways to score in the third quarter. Groce finished a 55-yard drive with a 6-yard run for a touchdown one minute into the half. Pullum, now at quarterback as Bland, kept the ball around the right side and raced 71 yards for a touchdown.
Bland, who was injured last Friday night at Douglas Byrd, didn't play after the Jackets led 35-6.
Hales, whose block led to the first Lee County touchdown, picked off a long Yates pass over the middle and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown making it 49-6 Lee County with 4:01 left in the third period.
Pullum passed to Groce for a 13-yard touchdown and the Jackets led 56-6 with 1:15 left in the quarter.
The Vikings lost Yates to an injury in the third quarter. Backup quarterback Justin Jackson guided the last scoring drive of the game. Paul Duncan carried four times for 23 yards on the drive. Jackson faked a give to Duncan and raced down the left sideline for a 32-yard touchdown run with 4:32 left.
The Jacket defense held Union Pines without a first down on 14 third-down plays. Senior lineman Brandon Prevatte had two tackles for loss and a sack. Terry Langston and Hampton Thomas had a sack each as well.
Pullum finished with 12 carries for 182 yards and the three overall touchdowns. Groce had six rushes for 55 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 18 yards and a touchdown. Kentrell French had 10 carries for 37 yards.
The Vikings will host Southern Lee for a 7:30 p.m. kick this coming Friday.
Lee County has a bye week before its last three weeks of the regular season. The Yellow Jackets will travel to face Terry Sanford on Oct. 25.