Less than four hours from game time, Fuquay-Varina coach Jeb Hall didn’t know if Eric Sugarman would be available for Friday’s meeting with Durham Riverside.
Hampered by a knee injury, the Bengals running back was cleared to play and showed no signs the knee bothered him. Sugarman rushed for 220 yards on just 11 carries and scored two touchdowns to lead the Bengals to a 34-20 win.
“I was worried to death he wasn’t going to be able to play,” Hall said. “I sent him a text about 3:30 saying I had to know something, and he said he was good to go.”
On the game’s third play from scrimmage, Sugarman raced 86 yards untouched to the end zone.
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“It started off right on the first series,” Sugarman said. “We got a big play, and that’s all we need to get ahead. From there, it took hold. Defense played well, and offense was moving the ball.”
On their next possession, the Bengals covered 75 yards on 17 plays in 9:23. Damarus Williams finished off the drive with a 1-yard TD plunge.
Williams’ ground-and-pound style nicely complimented the speedy Sugarman. Williams finished with 56 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries, and the Bengals ran for 343 yards on the night.
Fuquay escaped midway through the second quarter when Riverside recovered a muffed punt at the Fuquay 10-yard line. The down was replayed due to an illegal shift. Fuquay fielded the punt, and Sugarman scored on the first play of the drive on an 80-yard run to put the Bengals up 20-0.
Fuquay found the end zone one more time just before the half, when tight end Jake Slater hauled in a 14-yard pass from quarterback Brycen Braswell.
While Sugarman stole the show, the Bengals’ defense deserves as much credit. They held Riverside to just 13 plays in the first half, seven of which came during the final 90 seconds as the Pirates scrambled to make something happen. When Fuquay comfortably led 27-0, the Bengals had run 31 plays against the Pirates’ 13. Defensive end Ryan Fealey recovered two fumbles.
Riverside quarterback Diante Strothers scored on runs of 1 and 13 yards in the second half, and tailback Frank Adams punched one in for the Pirates as time expired.