CLAYTON — If there was any question as to the identity of Cleveland’s football team, the answer became quite clear in the Rams’ dismantling of fellow Eastern Carolina 3A Conference foe Eastern Wayne Friday night.
In keeping its record clean and improving to 6-0 on the season, the fifth-ranked Rams had no problem getting dirty with some good old-fashioned, smash mouth football to run all over the Warriors 69-0.
Isaac Martin led the way for Cleveland and its punishing rushing attack that totaled 458 yards on the night as the junior paired with his offensive line to set the tone early en route to an impressive 232-yard, two touchdown performance.
“I challenged them this week,” Cleveland coach Marc Morris said of his offensive line. “We didn’t think we blocked as well as we were capable of blocking last week (a 22-16 win over North Lenoir) and I really thought our offensive line did a good job up front against their D-Line tonight.”
Martin, who registered his sixth 100-yard rushing game of the year and reached the 1,000-yard mark on the season, took the first six handoffs on the Rams’ first possession and plunged in from a yard out to put the Rams up 7-0 early.
Martin had 191 yards rushing in the first quarter alone as he attacked the holes created for him by solid blocking up front with a vengeance.
“There’s not enough words to say about Isaac and how he runs the football,” said Morris. “He ran the ball hard tonight and really did a great job for us.”
Also helping Martin and the rest of the ground crew was a steady performance from sophomore quarterback Aaron Farmer. Farmer threw for 100 yards and two touchdown passes while adding a 17-yard rushing score as well.
Cleveland’s defense stood tall all night long in picking off Eastern Wayne quarterback Mitch Pike three times. Josh Carter hauled in two of the errant passes and Nick Locklear picked off one.
The front seven of the Cleveland defense prevented the Warriors from ever getting anything on track on the ground and held Eastern Wayne (2-4, 0-2) to 11 yards rushing on 18 carries.
The Warriors were denied their first first down until the seven-minute mark of the third quarter.
But on this night, it was the Cleveland rushing attack that ultimately pushed the Rams, who scored on nine of their 11 offensive possessions, to 2-0 in ECC play.
Brandon Cooley and Vincent Dean took over the bulk of the carries in the second half and continued to move the ball down the field. Cooley found the endzone twice while Dean and Donqua Williams also recorded rushing touchdowns.
“The holes were pretty big,” Martin said of the work of the offensive line. “The O-Line settled down and hit some people tonight-- they did a really good job.”