GASTON — Southeast Halifax’s Rakeem Jones took the opening kickoff 80-yards for a score, and just like that the Trojans were off to the races.
Southeast Halifax (5-2, 2-0) scored 24 first-quarter points en route to a 38-8 Tar Roanoke Athletic Conference win over KIPP Pride High. Once again it was the same story for the Panthers (0-6, 0-2) who just did not have the man power to hang with the Trojans — not that it would have mattered.
Southeast Halifax did most of its damage in the first quarter, by land and air.
After Jones set the tone with the kickoff return, the Trojans recovered a KIPP fumble on its first play from scrimmage. Moments later, JaQuez McDaniel busted in from 20-yards out. Jones added his second conversion run of the night to make it 16-0 with 6:52 remaining in the first quarter.
A brilliant run by McDaniel set up the next touchdown.
Flushed to the outside by the Panthers defense, the sophomore back reversed field and outran defenders for a 40-yard gain. On the very next play Adonis Whitaker hit an open Derrick Gray for a touchdown strike. McDaniel added the two-point conversion run to make it 24-0 after one quarter of play.
Things would slow down the rest of the way, but the damage had been done by the Trojans.
“We played pretty well,” Southeast Halifax head coach Larry Edwards said. “But it comes down to discipline. That is something we have been talking about. You have to have discipline. There is no excuse for that.”
Edwards was referring to an incident in the fourth quarter when the Trojans lost their best player, McDaniel, who was ejected after throwing punches. KIPP’s Larry Cotton was also ejected. Both players could miss up to two games. At that point the score was 30-0 and it came moments after McDaniel scored his second touchdown of the night.
KIPP got on the scoreboard on the opening drive of the fourth quarter when freshman quarterback M.J. Moody hit Devaughn Chrisp for a short scoring strike. Moody added the conversion for the Panthers, but for another week it was too little, too late for the Panthers.
“Each week we have people playing who are already banged up,” KIPP head coach Diego Hasty said. “It just gets worse.”
The Panthers were already without their best player, K.D. Goode, who missed the game with an injury. Three more players, including Cotton, finished the game on the sidelines cheering on their teammates. Still Hasty likes what he saw out of his few able bodies.
“I applaud them for what they do,” he said. “The scoreboard doesn’t indicate the effort that they give me.”
Hasty said it sometimes takes his team a while to get going, and chances are Jones’ opening kickoff return for a score did not help. According to Edwards, that return has been a long time in the making.
“Rakeem Jones has been waiting all year to get that kickoff return,” Edwards said. “That loosened everybody up and that was good.”
Southeast Halifax returns home at 7:30 p.m. Friday when they host Rocky Mount Prep in a non-conference game. The Panthers travel to Leggett for a 7:30 p.m. showdown with North Edgecombe.