Dexter Lawrence’s new running mate at Wake Forest, in lieu of Bryce Love’s graduation, turns out to be a posse of backs.
The loss of Love to Stanford mattered little as four running backs combined for 239 yards rushing to lead the Cougars to a 48-20 win over Panther Creek in the season opener at Trentini Stadium.
Among those sharing the load was a Lawrence teammate living under the same roof at home. His younger brother, sophomore Devon Lawrence, carried 14 times for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
“They know without Bryce here, there is nowhere to hide,” said Dexter, a 6-foot-5, 340-pound defensive lineman ranked the No. 1 prep recruit in the nation by Rivals.com. “They know they have to run hard, and that’s what they’ve done in the preseason and in this first game.”
Senior Artez Ragland added 14 carries for 114 yards and a touchdown, sophomore Marquis Dunn 12 for 48 and senior Shy’heem Mitchell six for 39 with two TDs.
The Cougars are seeking a third straight trip to the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4AA finals after losing to Charlotte’s Mallard Creek the last two years.
“I just want to get this community a ring,” said Lawrence, who played more defensive end in addition to nose tackle than last season.
The News & Observer area’s preseason No. 1-ranked Cougars dominated a preseason No. 11-ranked Panther Creek squad that it only defeated 23-6 in last year’s opener.
That would be the intimidating site of Lawrence leading the team captains down the middle of the stands for the pregame coin flip.
They said it
Panther Creek coach Sean Crocker. “They might be more dangerous without Bryce. You knew he would get it every couple of plays. Their backs run hard.”
Three who mattered
Wake Forest’s Lex Goodwin: The 6-2, 185-pound sophomore receiver caught a 37-yard touchdown pass for a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Wake Forest’s Colby Westberry: The senior kicker was 6 of 6 on extra points and 2 of 2 on field goals of 20 and 32 yards.
Panther Creek’s Diamante Taylor: The senior wide receiver caught touchdown passes of 74 and 62 yards from quarterback Dom Samson.
Panther Creek lost senior safety Isaiah Laster in the second quarter with an apparent leg injury. He didn’t return to the game.