RALEIGH — The Jordan Falcons ran off the field at halftime feeling grateful for two reasons.
The first a unique 50-yard punt return for a touchdown by linebacker Josh Neal gave the Falcons the lead against Enloe late in the first quarter. The second was exactly what coach Mike Briggs wanted: A quick scoring drive that left just one second on the clock.
In a competitive game between two teams searching for a victory, Jordan did enough in the first half to separate itself from Enloe for a 33-21 victory Friday night.
The Falcons first touchdown came at a critical time, too. With the offense unable to move the ball, Neals score gave the Falcons confidence.
I really think that got us going, said quarterback Joey Mangili, as Neal surprised Enloe by picking up the short punt and eluding defenders on his way to the end zone. I wasnt expecting it and it came as a complete surprise.
The Falcons, known for their running game, also shocked the Eagles by passing late in the first half to take a 21-7 lead.
Mangili made a quick pass to receiver Phil Williamson, who then completed a 46-yard pass to receiver Darien Ortiz. That play set up Mangili to find a diving receiver in Jeff Clark for a six-yard touchdown pass.
Clark could tell the Falcons drive with less than a minute left was the turning point.
That trick play helped out a lot because we got the ball back with little time left, said Clark, who caught two touchdown passes. We needed a big play and that led to the touchdown. That gave us a lot of energy heading into halftime.
Whenever Jordan (1-1) needed to convert on third down in the second half, Mangili usually found Clark for the reception to keep the chains, and clock, moving. While Clark didnt play much last season, Briggs can tell Mangili has started to use Clark as his primary target.
They have played together for a while, Briggs said. They worked in the summer a lot so theres a connection there.
Mangili also used his feet in the second half, as he scored on a four-yard run to end the third quarter.
Enloe (0-2) did make a push in the second half to close Jordans lead to seven points twice.
A Jordan fumble also gave the Eagles a chance to continue their comeback. But once the Eagles cross midfield in the fourth quarter, defensive backs Nick Drew and Dyemonte Jones each intercepted Enloe quarterback John Michael Stewart.
Drew caught his interception in the end zone early in the fourth quarter.
We really made mistakes on offense in the second half, Mangili said. Those interceptions were huge because I think it really allowed us to stay ahead.
email@example.com or 919-829-4538