WILMINGTON – If you are familiar with Ashley High School Coach Tom Eanes you know he seldom makes excuses when his team loses and, after Friday night’s dominant loss to Topsail on the Screaming Eagles’ home field, Eanes was very up front about what just happened.
“No excuses, they came out and outplayed us, outhustled us, and outcoached us,” Eanes said. “I have the utmost respect for (Topsail’s Bryan) Coach Davis and he definitely had his kids more ready to play than we did. In every facet of the game they were better than us tonight.”
Pretty right to the point, and right on the mark as the Pirates of Topsail High School dominated just about every phase of the game in recording an impressive win over a 4A school in a conference that the Pirates will be joining next school year.
Guess they wanted to make a point, and they certainly did!
Senior Devin Williams finally got to play a full game after sitting out most of the first two games with an injury and he responded with 188 yards on 20 carries (9.4 yards-per-carry) while finding the end zone twice, and the staunch make-shift Pirates’ defense took care of the rest as Topsail raced to a 26-7 win over Ashley on Friday in a non-conference football game in Wilmington.
Topsail improved to 2-1 on the early season while Ashley fell to 1-3.
“Not one of the kids on the offensive line played in the same position they did two weeks ago due to injury or illness, and they did a magnificent job,” Davis said. “I really didn’t know how this was going to turn out, and I admit I was a bit worried. But we had such a good week of practice, they practiced so doggone well and so hard, I had a good feeling and they exceeded anything I could have hoped for.
“It makes me feel good about the rest of the year. What has happened is we have found some depth, and when we get everyone back and healthy it will be interesting to see.”
Part of the hype coming into the game in some of the area newspapers was how the Pirates would handle Ashley’s two-headed offense monster of fullback Quincy Rhodes and quarterback Chris Kane. Rhodes had 295 yards on 23 carries and Kane had 123 yards on 16 carries last week in a 42-14 win over Trask, but the Topsail defense did a great job of slowing Rhodes down on the inside and putting the reins on Kane’s outside and inside runs out of the triple-option offense, and both Screaming Eagles’ players were outshone by their Topsail counterparts.
Rhodes finished with 94 yards on 11 carries but 68 of those yards came on four carries – 25, 10, 18, and 15 – and he was kept out of the end zone the entire evening. Kane finished with six yards on 11 carries, was sacked twice for losses totaling 10 yards, and finished the night 0-for-4 in the passing category.
Williams had 188 yards running and Topsail’s outstanding sophomore quarterback Austin Schoenleber racked up 105 yards on 4-of-7 passing including a perfect over-the shoulder throw to senior wide-out Palmer Rice that resulted in a 47-yard scoring play.
“I didn’t pay any attention to any of the hype, I just had to keep my mind on what I had to do, stay focused, and follow the blocks of the guys up front,” said Williams, who Davis said is, ‘About 80 percent.’ “I love my offensive line. They’re my brothers and I just followed them.’
Topsail wasted little time in showing the Eagles they meant business as they took the opening kickoff and moved 63 yards on nine plays before the drive stalled when Schoenleber was sacked on third down from the Ashley eight-yard line. That brought senior kicker Alex Webster onto the field and he immediately atoned for a rough week two weeks ago in a 22-20 loss to Pender by drilling a 30-yard field goal directly down the middle of the goal posts – a kick that probably went another 12-18 yards after it split the uprights – to give the Pirates a 3-0 lead just 3:41 into the game.
It took Topsail one play to make it 10-0 when they took over on the Ashley 47-yard line after a punt. Schoenleber calmly waited until Rice had cleared the defender and laid a perfect throw over Rice’s right shoulder that he caught on a dead run around the 23-yard line before racing untouched into the end zone with 3:30 remaining in the first quarter.
That 10-point advantage stayed in place until late in the first half when Topsail recovered a muffed punt before moving 58 yards on four plays to make it 17-0. After Schoenleber lost five yards, Williams had a 36-yard run, Hunter Jacobs had a seven-yard run, and Williams had a 15-yard scamper to finish off the drive with just 85 ticks left on the first-half clock.
After Ashley went three-and-out to start the second half, Topsail and Williams put the Screaming Eagles on the short end of a 24-0 score with a two-play, 73-yard drive. William gained 10 yards on his first carry of the drive, and broke several tackles before a block by Jacobs set him free on a 63-yard scoring jaunt 2:58 into the second half.
Earlier Williams had flattened an Ashley defender on a 17-yard run by Jacobs, and later Jacobs ended Topsail’s scoring when he tackled Screaming Eagle Khaleel Truesdale in the end zone for a safety – and a 26-0 Topsail lead – with 3:00 left in the third quarter.
Ashley did break into the scoring column with 8:00 left in the game when backup quarterback Malik Amos bolted up the middle against the Topsail second-team defense for 29 yards and a touchdown but it was definitely too little, too late.
Ashley did finish with 229 yards rushing and 40 yards passing (all by Amos against the second defense of Topsail) but 123 of those yards came on six plays, and 125 of the yards cam against Topsail’s second-team defense.
“Against the option you have to account for everyone and you want to match up four or five defenders to three offensive players,” Davis said. “We knew we had to limit No. 3 and we wanted to see if the quarterback would hurt us and, if he didn’t, we wanted him pitching it to the halfbacks and let them beat us. Not until we were midway through the third quarter did we line up in the same defense twice.”
Leading the way defensively for Topsail was senior linebacker Mason Kimmel, who finished the game with 12 tackles.
“All week in practice we worked on the mindset of stopping No. 3 (Rhodes) and we felt if we did that we’d win,” Kimmel said. “We felt we had to limit him and No. 16 (Kane). The coaches did an excellent job of preparing us for this game.”
Topsail returns to Hampstead next Friday where they will open play in the East Central 2A Conference against Jacksonville-Northside. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Northside is 4-0 with a 35-0 win over White Oak, a 26-0 win over West Craven, a 12-0 win over Jacksonville, and a 34-21 win over Wilson-Fike – four teams with a combined record of 5-10 with Jacksonville owning three of those wins.
Ashley 0-0-0-7= 7
Topsail – Alec Webster 30-yard Field Goal, 8:09
Topsail – Palmer Rice 47 pass from Austin Schoenleber (Alec Webster kick), 3:30
Topsail – Devin Williams 15 run (Alec Webster kick), 1:25
Topsail – Devin Williams 63 run (Alec Webster kick), 9:02
Topsail – Safety – Hunter Jacobs tackled Ashley runner in end zone, 3:00
Ashley – Malik Amos 29 run (Cameron Cairney kick), 8:00
Team Statistics: Topsail Ashley
First Downs 15 15
Rushing 39-287 42-229
Passing 4-7-105 2-11-40
Penalties 10-65 11-60
Fumbles/Lost 1/0 4/2
Punts 3-99 5-151
Individual Statistics: Rushing – Topsail: Devin Williams 20-188, Wayland Batson 3-44, Hunter Jacobs 5-41, Addison Futrell 1-4, Derrick Session 1-1. Ashley: Quincy Rhodes 11-94, Anthony Andrews 9-54, Malik Amos 7-49, Trey Eller 4-15, Jesse Jewell 2-11, Chris Kane 11-6. Passing – Topsail: Austin Schoenleber 4-7-107. Ashley: Chris Kane 0-4-0, Malik Amos 2-7-40. Receiving – Topsail: Palmer Rice 1-47, Hunter Jacobs 2-32, Addison Futrell 1-26. Ashley: Keegan Haugle 2-40. Defense – Topsail: Mason Kimmel 12 tackles, Jakeem Smith 6 tackles, Trevor Savidge 4 tackles, Scott Houghteling 3 tackles, 1 sack, Zack Rosenberg 3 tackles, pass knockdown, Addison Futrell 3 tackles, Palmer Rice 3 tackles, Hunter Jacobs 3 tackles, safety.