BEAUFORT — East Carteret gave up an 82-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff of the 2019 season and trailed 7-0 after 15 seconds.
Things went downhill from there.
West Craven went on to post 29 more points in the first quarter Friday on the 2A squad’s way to a 58-6 win over the 1A Mariners.
“It was a lack of execution,” East coach B.J. Frazier said. “That comes with youth. I think we had a heck of a JV team on the field tonight.”
Sixteen of the 27 players on the East roster are underclassmen.
“Coach Frazier has a young team,” West Craven coach Mike Twichell said. “He’s going to do a great job with his guys the rest of the way. Tonight, we just had a little more octane.”
The inexperience showed with missed assignments on big plays. The Mariners gave up nine plays of 25 yards or more.
“Big plays,” Frazier said. “We just gave up too many big plays.”
Special teams and turnovers haunted the team in the home opener that saw a running clock due to the second half 40-point mercy rule.
In addition to Carice Raynor’s 82-yard kickoff score, East surrendered a 31-yard punt return. The Eagles scored twice on defense with Jerontae Dunn returning a fumble 39 yards and Tyshawn Bryant returning an interception 32 yards.
Three of the Eagles’ five offensive touchdowns also covered plenty of real estate.
Quarterback Trent Casey connected with Jonathan Ward on a 42-yard touchdown pass and with Silas Wallace on a 25-yard scoring toss. Ward also hit pay dirt on a 31-yard touchdown run.
After taking a 44-0 lead at the half, DayQuan Shelton rumbled 70 yards on West Craven’s first offensive play of the second half. He then punched it into the end zone from 1 yard out.
“We played fast in the first half,” Twichell said. “We knew we had some quality skill guys on the perimeter, and that showed early. But I wasn’t pleased with our interior run game in the first half, and I challenged them at halftime. We came out and we had that first run on the first carry, and so I was glad to see them respond.”
Despite giving up five offensive scores, the East defense showed signs of life, coming up with 4.5 sacks, an interception and fumble. The Mariners surrendered just 237 total yards, including only 88 through the air.
“Our defensive line, I was impressed with them,” Frazier said. “And (sophomores) Ty Frazier and Cam Eakes were bright spots. They both did a good job.”
Frazier had a sack, and Eakes came up with an interception.
It was difficult, however, to find bright spots on offense. East had four turnovers and managed just 72 total yards with 52 of those coming on a scoring drive in the third quarter. Adam McIntosh capped the drive by finding Qualik Nolon on a 22-yard touchdown pass.
The Mariners had minus-6 rushing yards on 19 carries.
“The offense couldn’t seem to get anything clicking, and when we did, we hurt ourselves,” Frazier said. “We had no movement up front. We just got lost. We weren’t ready to play up front. I saw it in warmups.”
With so much youth and inexperience on the team – less than 10 players took snaps last year – Frazier wasn’t looking to kick his team while it was down.
“This is a growing phase we have to go through,” he said. “We can learn from this. Adversity is part of it. We don’t like it, but we’ll take it in stride. We’re young, so we’re going to continue to encourage them.”
East will stay at home for a second consecutive week as it welcomes West Carteret this Friday in the 55th annual Mullet Bucket.