By Caryn Grant
RALEIGH – Both Wake Forest-Rolesville and Southeast Raleigh entered Friday night’s game undefeated, but the Cougars ran away with a 34-7 win to remain unbeaten.
“The score does not indicate how tough this game was,” said Wake Forest-Rolesville coach Reggie Lucas. “Southeast Raleigh is a tough football team. … I’m proud of my guys.”
A statistical breakdown of each team’s success going into the contest set the stage for what could have been a battle between the two sides of the ball.
On the defensive end, No. 7. Southeast Raleigh (3-1) entered the game having allowed only 7.7 points per game and 47 yards total on the ground.
No. 5 Wake Forest-Rolesville (4-0) had averaged 51.3 points and 336.3 yards rushing in the first three weeks.
Wake Forest-Rolesville’s high-powered rushing offense was stifled early on, rushing for just 66 yards in a first half filled with possession changes in just about every form.
WFR blocked a punt to take possession on the 21 yard line and then fumbled at the five-yard line on first and goal. The Cougars later recovered a botched Southeast snap, but quarterback Cameron Fray was picked off by Southeast’s Jaquell Taylor later in the drive.
“We really missed opportunities in the redzone in the first half,” Lucas said.
Wake Forest was able to get on the board with 9:21 remaining in the half on a Drew Alvarez field goal. The Cougars followed that score by recovering an onside kick only to have their second field goal attempt blocked.
On its next possession, Wake Forest found the end zone, taking a 10-0 lead into the half.
Last year’s match-up between the two teams turned out to be one of the season’s best with the Cougars coming from behind to win 30-27. Southeast had won the four meetings before 2011.
This year, Wake Forest scored first and maintained its lead. The Cougars didn’t waste any time in the second, turning a 10-second possession into nine points as Williams cut downfield for a 46-yard touchdown run and Taylor Bagley scored on a two-point conversion.
Williams finished with 109 yards on 12 carries.
Southeast struck right back with a 25-second possession of its own. The Bulldogs cashed in on a 64-yard Sandy Chapman return by following it with 26-yard DeMontae Spence-to-Ezra Jeffers touchdown pass. The score put the Bulldogs on the board, but still down 18-7 with 9:31 remaining in the third.
Chapman finished with 219 yards rushing, but the Bulldogs failed to take advantage of opportunities.
“There was lack of execution in all three phases of the game,” said Southeast coach Marvin Burke. “(Wake Forest) did a great job of executing. We’ll use this game as a lesson.”
The Cougars weren’t done with their busy third quarter. After another field goal score, the Cougars recovered a Bulldogs fumble, taking over at the 31 and allowing Fray to find Sam Newhouse to put Wake Forest up 27-7 going into the fourth.
Wake Forest scored once more when Ben Fingers picked off another of Spence’s passes and took it in for the score.
“We got our butts whooped,” said Southeast coach Marvin Burke. “Hopefully we’ll learn from this going into conference. … We will get better.”
Just over a minute into the game, Cougars receiver Dequan Ingram was downed near midfield with an injury. After more than 20 minutes of being tended to by training staffs from both schools, Ingram was taken away in an ambulance. After the game, Lucas said first reports were that Ingram suffered a dislocated elbow.
Conference play begins next week with Wake Forest-Rolesville hosting Heritage in the Cap Eight and Southeast facing Harnett Central in Greater Neuse River action.
“You enjoy this briefly, and now you think about the Cap Eight and what we’re going into,” Lucas said. “It’s an uphill battle.”