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Sports: Mistakes cost Warriors in 42-14 loss to St. James

By Roger Greene
Coastal Observer

Stopping the run and preventing big plays have been persistent issues for the Waccamaw High football team. St. James exploited both on Thursday night.

The Sharks rolled up 456 yards on the ground and had four scoring runs of 24 yards or more to post a 42-14 win over the visiting Warriors. Gregg Johnson powered the running attack for St. James, piling up 237 yards and four touchdowns on 22 carries.

"They pounded the ball at us all night," said Waccamaw coach Tyronne Davis. "Our challenge for this game was to be physical and stop their running game. We did not do that."

Playing a day early due to the threat from Hurricane Irene, the Warriors had trouble adjusting to the Sharks modified single-wing offense. Using a bevy of pre-snap activity and having several backs who can receive the ball once it is snapped, the Sharks disrupted the Warriors defense throughout the night.

Miscues also proved to be costly for Waccamaw, particularly on special teams. St. James turned two Waccamaw fumbles on special teams into 14 points, recovered two onside kicks, one of which resulted in a touchdown, and blocked a punt.

"It is a hard team to prepare for," Davis said. "You can't simulate what they do offensively in practice. And we've obviously got to get our special teams corrected."

St. James (1-1) took control of the game on its opening drive, moving 85 yards in seven plays and going ahead 7-0 on Johnson's 47-yard TD run. After Waccamaw muffed the ensuing kickoff, St. James went back to work, putting together a six-play, 36-yard drive. Johnson capped the march with an 8-yard run that increased the Sharks advantage to 14.

Johnson had 90 yards rushing before Waccamaw (1-1) had run its first offensive play.

"We were flat at the beginning of the game and they put it to us," Davis said. "We were never able to stop their running game."

Down 21-0 at halftime, Waccamaw abandoned its three-back offensive scheme and switched to the spread at the start of the third quarter. Nick Davis moved under center after playing running back during the first half and completed five of his first nine passes.

Two of those completions were scoring strikes of 11- and 19-yards to A.J. Grant, that brought the Warriors to within 21-14 with 1:56 remaining in the third quarter.

But Johnson would not allow Waccamaw to get any closer. On the Sharks' ensuing possession, he rambled 38 yards on a first down run, moving the ball to Waccamaw's 39-yard line. Two plays later, he found paydirt from 30-yards out, increasing the lead to 14 and providing the Sharks with the cushion they needed.

"That drive really killed our momentum," Davis said.

Johnson would add a 25-yard TD run later in the fourth quarter and Austin Adams' 75-yard scoring run provided St. James with its final margin. Adams finished with 116 yards rushing.

Waccamaw finished with just 105 yards of total offense. Grant provided more than half of that, catching five passes for 58 yards.

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