Streaking Rams stifle Fairmont

·4 min read

Aug. 27—FAIRMONT — Of the 30 games it played from Aug. 31, 2018 until Oct. 22, 2021, the Purnell Swett football team won just three.

The Rams are 3-for-3 since.

Purnell Swett beat Fairmont 24-8 Friday, giving the Rams their first 2-0 start to a season since 2017; they've won three in a row dating back to the 2021 finale at Lumberton, also a first since 2017 for the program.

"It feels good to finally win," senior quarterback Michael Jacobs said. "We haven't won in a long time, so it feels real good. Instead of being the nail, we're being the hammer now; I feel like we're earning our respect back a little bit."

In the first meeting between the schools on the gridiron, two long passing touchdowns in the first half and a stellar defensive effort made the winning difference for the Rams.

"The defense is playing lights out ... they're playing great assignment football," Purnell Swett coach Stephen Roberson said. "Jacobi Chavis and Nakota Locklear inside, they're blowing things up and our ends are playing solid contain. (Fairmont quarterback) Gabriel Washington, I worried about him all week; I stayed up late every night trying to make sure that we're going to be able to keep him in the pocket. We were able to get hats on him early and I think he sort of slowed down a little bit."

Fairmont (1-1) was held to 28 yards of total offense, with its eight points set up by a fumble recovery.

"The best football teams out there, they block well and they tackle well. I thought all night long, by and large, we had a lot of trouble blocking Purnell Swett's front four," Fairmont coach Lonnie Cox said. "It doesn't matter what you draw up in terms of X's and O's; if you don't block well there's not a whole lot you can do."

Purnell Swett took a 12-0 lead by scoring on its first two drives. The first, when the Rams took over at the Golden Tornadoes' 3-yard line after a botched punt, came on a 3-yard Darius Bethea run. The second came on a 43-yard pass from Jacobs to Kieran Oxendine.

After Bilaal Coles recovered a Purnell Swett fumble at the Rams' 35-yard line, Demarcus Grissett scored on a 7-yard run early in the second quarter; Washington ran in the conversion to make it a 12-8 game.

With 40 seconds left in the half, with Jacobs scrambling to avoid a safety, he found Jace Lowry for a 90-yard touchdown that put the Rams up 18-8. All three of Jacobs' first-half pass attempts resulted in touchdowns, as he threw for 142 yards in the half.

"That was a scramble drill," Roberson said. "Jace did the right thing; he was the outside receiver and he went down the sideline when Michael broke containment. He executed the scramble drill, but it was really a busted play."

After four combined punts and a turnover in the third quarter, Purnell Swett scored with 9:50 remaining on a 12-yard fumble recovery return by Zachary Harris, making it 24-8.

Purnell Swett gained just one yard on the ground in the first half, but ran the ball more effectively in the second half as the Rams looked to control the clock — particularly Alex Dial, who had seven second-half carries for 49 yards, and was the leading rusher for either team with 66 yards overall.

"It was important because they were tired, and it was just wearing them out even more than they were," Jacobs said. "They couldn't stop us."

The Golden Tornadoes face a stiff test next week at Westover, which dominated St. Pauls 40-7 Friday.

"I think playing these first two games against schools bigger than us, it's only going to help us progress in the manner in which we want to to be the best version of us," Cox said. "I've always said that iron sharpens iron, and playing these larger schools, it's going to pay dividends for us moving forward."

The Rams will put their winning streak to the test when they travel to Knightdale.

"This is good for confidence. I think each week our competition's going to get a little tougher," Roberson said. "We'll take these two wins and try to pull the good from it, and improve on anything we're not doing well."

Fairmont will play at Westover next week. Purnell Swett will travel to Knightdale.

Chris Stiles can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at cstiles@robesonian.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @StilesOnSports.