JACKSONVILLE — The East Carteret football team’s 48-26 defeat to Southwest Onslow on Saturday didn’t look anything like it’s previous three in the 1A/2A Coastal 8 Conference series.

The Mariners were in a one-possession tilt in the third quarter before fatigue set in and they gave up a couple of late big plays in the marathon matchup.

“We’ve had some blowouts against Southwest in the last three years,” coach B.J. Frazier said. “This one here was different. Compared to the other games, this is one of the closer ones we’ve had.”

Frazier’s squad had lost by an average margin of nearly 43 points in the previous three seasons, falling by an average score of 60-18.

East suffered its first loss of the year as each team moved to 3-1. Only Croatan at 4-0 stands above those teams in the conference standings.

The tighter game wasn’t the only thing different about the recent matchup.

Due to coronavirus quarantines by Richlands and Trask earlier this season, the league has compressed its schedule to get in the entire slate by the state-mandated, end-of-season date of April 9. That requires two-game weeks for teams, and contests must be separated by at least four days, meaning games last week for East on Tuesday and Saturday.

The Saturday night matchup did not go smoothly. Weather delays had a game set to start at 6:30 p.m. but was delayed until almost 8 p.m. The final horn didn’t blow until almost midnight due to more weather delays.

The muddy field conditions turned East’s new white uniforms black by the end of the night.

“It was a tough one,” Frazier said. “We were there for seven hours. It was a good idea to go ahead and play it out, though. We wanted to play. We couldn’t postpone it till Monday, because we have a game on Thursday.”

The Mariners will next host North Edgecombe on Thursday. The Warriors are 2-2 this season. They went 10-4 last season with a trip to the third round of the 1A playoffs.

“That is a good nonconference game for us,” Frazier said. “They are big and look like Southwest. They are the same type of offense, they run right at you.”

Trailing 28-7 late in the first half against the Stallions, Adam McIntosh hit Mason Rose for a score before halftime, and McIntosh then ran for a touchdown in the third to quickly make it a 28-20 game.

“We upped our tempo and caught them off guard,” Frazier said. “But we had kids going on offense and defense, so we started to get tired. We don’t have a lot of guys going one way, and we got fatigued. When that starts to happen, something has to give.”

McIntosh totaled 172 yards and three touchdowns, throwing for 120, going 11-of-21 with a score and two interceptions, and running for 52 yards and two scores on 10 carries.

Jacob Nelson had 75 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries and caught three passes for 45 yards.

Bennie Brooks caught three passes for 26 yards, and Rose had 53 yards and a score on three catches.

Frazier said the team is in relatively good health despite playing three games in nine days and is also in a good mental space even with the first loss of the year.

“We have some things to clean up, some things to get better at, but I’ve seen a lot of good things,” he said. “I’m proud of the guys. They fought until the end. They showed some grit and fight that I haven’t seen in a while. I loved it.”

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