LAUREL – The Laurel High School football team ran all over High Point, literally with their ground game, on Oct. 20.
Laurel’s offense scored six rushing touchdowns’ on their way to a dominant 47-0 victory for their second straight win, led on offense by junior running back and wide receiver Jaheem Williams.
The first quarter was the Williams show as he made a case of offensive performance of the year with four first quarter touchdowns. Williams broke off a 25-yard touchdown early in the first period for the first score of the game. After a forced fumble and recovery by Laurel’s defense, Williams ran for a 32-yard touchdown on the very next play.
Following a failed offensive drive by High Point, they decided to punt to Williams, which was also a bad idea. Williams returned the punt 55 yards for his third touchdown of the quarter. The junior then ended the period with a 23-yard run for his fourth score and gave his team a 33-0 lead as they headed into the second quarter. Williams finished the game with 8 carries for 113 yards, three rushing touchdowns and a punt return for a touchdown.
“Honestly I have to give it all to my teammates,” Williams said of his first quarter success. “Without them, nothing would be possible. We knew that this was a big game so it was a lot of pressure for us but I think we handled it really good. Overall, we are predominantly a running team and when we run, we do that we have to do, which is execute.
“When we execute we do big things. I’m always giving my teammates advice. If we’re fallen down, I try to pick them up and help them as much as I can. I know that my team feeds off of me and I know that they look up to me in a way, so I have to fulfill that position and always keep them up.”
Another player who was part of that first quarter run game was junior starting quarterback and running back Roy Wesley. Wesley, who only threw one pass the entire game, had a seven-yard touchdown run in the first period as well. Wesley finished the game with six carries for 44 yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion.
“I have to give credit to the offensive line,” Wesley said. “The line wasn’t really getting and understanding it throughout the season, but today they really played with their hearts and did their job. I think we was so effective because we wanted to win. This past season, was just lollygagging and taking this lightly, but this week, we wanted to come out and show out for the seniors. We have to come to practice at 2:30 every day and grind it on the field. We weren’t doing that at first, but we doing it now.”
In the second quarter, senior running back and slot wide receiver Neko Grant got in on the Laurel rushing attack. Grant got good blocks on the line and down the field as he ran for a 42-yard touchdown that pushed their lead to 39-0 as they went into halftime. He closed the game with four carries for 79 yards and a touchdown.
“First, all credit goes to the o-line,” Grant said. “These running backs wouldn’t be nothing without the o-line. I think it was 50-50 with play calling and execution on the offensive end. Coach (Micheal) Mayo made the right plays and we just executed. Execution is big for Coach Mayo. We always stick to hard work before talent. Practice has to be 110 percent every day.”
In the second half, senior running back Jawad Singleton took over the ground game for Laurel. Singleton scored his only touchdown of the game with 12 seconds left. Singleton had 10 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown on the afternoon.
“I do what I what I always do which is use my strength and speed at the same time and getting down the field every time I get the ball,” Singleton said. “Practicing the same plays over and over again gets into our heads. We just have to come to practice every day ready to work and we should be straight. Everything could be done better.
Although Laurel’s offensive run game was the headline of the day, their defense was also effective. The defense allowed zero points, forced three turnovers and held High Point’s entire offense to a total of 47 yards.
“I got back into my coverage, seen the ball in the air and I just went up and got it,” junior cornerback Markus Smith said of his first half interception. “We just trusted our coaching, came out and played like how we normally played and came out with the W. There’s always room to improve but we are just going to enjoy this win and come out better next week.”
After they started their season 1-5, Laurel has outscored their opponents 68-0 over the last two games and have turned their season.
“We just have to keep our heads,” Head Coach Michael Mayo said. “We been through a lot this year. We should have won more games and we lost close games. We had a lot of opportunities in games like this and it didn’t happen.
“We were playing down to the level, but I think it be senior day and they wanted to send the seniors out in a good way. I saw some leadership today where players stepped up and they said ‘we going to get this done today.’ You stop lowering yourself to the competition and you look up, and you’re in a game. They had a little bounce in their step today which is good.”
As for High Point, they have now lost two straight games and have been outscored 82-7 over the last two games.
“It just comes down to effort,” High Point Head Coach Wilbert Brinson, Sr. said. “The X’s and O’s are overrated. You just have to want to make a play. At the end of the day it came down to just effort. I’m still proud of the boys. They came out and played, they suited up and they just have to take it as a life experience at this point. We stick together in the good and bad and that’s what I told them. We got to strap it up and come back because we got two games remaining, so it’s all going to start on Monday.”