Nothing says football like a rivalry game and Tuesday night’s matchup between cross-county rivals New Bern and West Craven certainly fit the bill.
The two teams were supposed to play last Friday but after being postponed, the rivalry renewed itself from the 6:30 p.m. kick off and on. What turned into a mistake and penalty-riddled game from both sides, New Bern was able to pull away from West Craven 43-14.
The Bears (3-0) extend their school record winning streak to 19 games while the Eagles (1-2) showed a lot of fight against their rivals. Both teams combined to commit 30 penalties as drives were stalled and touchdowns erased. First quarter mistakes, including three personal foul calls, kept either team from finding any offensive rhythm and a holding penalty nullified a New Bern touchdown with both teams tied up at 0-0 after the 1st quarter.
The Bears hit pay dirt on the second play of the second quarter when Emmanuel Johnson found Ozell Brimmer with a 10-yard touchdown pass and a two point conversion made it 8-0 Bears with 11:45 left in the half. Mixing up the run and short passing game, the Bears jumped to a 15-0 lead when Johnson threw a 15-yard scoring strike to Ivion Smith with 5:31 remaining until halftime.
Following a short West Craven punt it seemed New Bern was set to strike again but the West Craven defense sacked Johnson who fumbled and the Eagles recovered. Two plays later the Eagles super sophomore quarterback DJ Davis scrambled and ran 50 yards for the score and West Craven trailed just 15-6 at intermission.
The third quarter started as a turnover fest.
West Craven came up with an interception but fumbled the ball right back to New Bern. The Bears then returned the favor by fumbling the ball back to West Craven at their own 13-yard line. A personal foul penalty moved the ball to the 6-yard line and Davis ran it in from there as the Eagles trimmed the New Bern lead to 15-14 at 7:03 in the third.
However, the Eagles were unable to complete the comeback. New Bern running back NyQuiese Askew busted off left tackle for a 22-yard touchdown run and with the extra point New Bern’s lead was 21-14 at 5:54 of the third.
On the ensuing kickoff the Eagles normally sure-handed Reginald Lancaster fumbled and New Bern recovered the ball at the West Craven 6-yard line. One play later Askew scored his second rushing touchdown and the Bears pushed their lead to 29-14 at 5:36, two touchdowns in 18 seconds.
Still in the third period West Craven was stopped on downs and New Bern quarterback Johnson broke a 71-yard touchdown run as the Bears took a 36-14 lead into the 4th quarter. Johnson would add a three yard rushing score with 7:48 to play to make the final 43-14 New Bern.
“Mistakes, mistakes and mistakes, we have to fix the mistakes,” said West Craven coach Michael Twichell following the game. “We fought back and not to take anything away from New Bern but we just made too many mistakes.”
“We’ve faced adversity every week this season and we’ve overcome and found a way to win.” according to New Bern coach Terrance Saxby adding, “I’m proud of these kids, they did a great job especially in the third quarter, we are building something here.”
Both teams have a short turnaround before their next game. The Bears play at Knightdale (1-2) on Friday, while West Craven wraps up Craven County play with a trip to Havelock (2-0).