Braband shines in Wakefield win over Southeast Raleigh

CorrespondentSeptember 13, 2013 

— It took Wakefield’s offense a quarter to find its rhythm Friday night. After that, the Wolverines’ developing team had little trouble putting points on the scoreboard.

Wakefield (3-0) scored 21 second-quarter points to take a 21-3 halftime lead and cruised to a 42-11 nonconference victory over Southeast Raleigh (1-2).

Senior quarterback Evan Brabrand, a first-year starter who played behind South Carolina recruit and four-year starter Connor Mitch for the previous two seasons, is getting his chance now. And he is showing that he has some skills as well.

Brabrand, a 6-foot-2, 175-pounder, ran for two scores and threw for two touchdowns to lead the Wolverines’ offense, which is averaging about 40 points per game. The Wolverines like to spread the field, run out of the shotgun and count on their quarterback to be a field general.

“We are so young on offense,” Wakefield coach Rod Sink said. “We are three games in, and these guys are starting to respond pretty well.

“Evan has been a quarterback for three games. What we do offensively can be a little hair-raising for somebody in that position, but he has done a good job. He had a really good night, he’s leading the team. He’s starting to get into his groove a little bit.”

Brabrand finished 22-for-36 passing for 218 yards, throwing for 141 yards in the first half. He had a touchdown pass and scoring run in each half.

“It was a little tough in the first quarter,” Brabrand said. “I had some misreads I could have capatilized on. We had it. We were getting there. We just needed that one big play to break it open.

“We had that in the second quarter. Once we started getting on a roll, it helped, big time.”

After two possessions that produced four first downs but no points, the Wolverines started marching late in the first quarter. Mixing short passes and runs by junior Kelton Whitehead, the Wolverines methodically moved 53 for a score – with Brabrand running in from the 3 on first-and-goal with 11:17 left in the half for the game’s first points.

Southeast Raleigh responded with a 27-yard field goal by Gary Nava to cut the margin to 7-3.

Wakefield came right back. After a 30-yard kickoff return by Omari Williams set the Wolverines up at the Southeast 48, it took the Wolverines only four plays to get their second touchdown. Whitehead broke it from 33 yards out, starting right and then cutting back to the left to race into the end zone.

Ahead 14-3, the Wolverines executed a successful onside kick. Starting at the Southeast 48 again, Brabrand completed a five-play drive with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Keith Wilson.

It was 21-3 and the Wolverines were on their way to their third straight victory.

“What we saw on film, they put four guys up front,” Sink said of the onside kick. “We wanted to work on it. That is something we might need down the road.”

The Wolverines’ defense got into the act in the second half.

On Southeast’s second play of the second half, Amir Meeks plowed up the middle and was met by several Wakefield defenders. Bryant Neal stripped the ball out of Meeks’ hands and headed the other, scoring on a 35-yard return to make it 28-3.

Mike Shelton also had two interceptions in the second half for the Wolverines.

Wakefield’s final score came on an 11-yard pass from Brabrand to Williams.

Southeast got into the end zone in the final minute when Meeks burst around the left side and 52 yards into the end zone with 40.3 seconds left. The Bulldogs went for two points for the final margin.

Meeks finished with 143 yards rushing on 16 carries, but penalties and turnovers kept the Bulldogs’ offense from finding any continuity.

“We didn’t make plays, they did,” Southeast coach Marvin Burke said. “They made all their catches, we didn’t. We had three dropped touchdowns in the first half. That’s a different ball game.

“Hats off to Wakefield. They made plays, we didn’t. That’s the bottom line.”

For Wakefield, ranked No. 14 in The News & Observer poll, each week is about a young team coming together.

“We have a lot of different faces from last year,” Sink said. “We are trying to find our identity, exactly who we are going to be. We are still trying to get some things down before conference time. It’s not going to be an easy road.”

So far, the learning curve has led to three wins.

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