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Hill powers Edenton past Manteo w/Video

John A. Holmes 42 Manteo 13

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Edenton-John A. Holmes' Nakevin Hill (with ball) returns an interception 44 yards for a touchdown against Manteo during the second round of the 1AA state playoffs, football, Friday, November 17, 2017 at John A. Holmes High School.

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By Malcolm Shields
Sports Editor

Sunday, November 19, 2017

EDENTON — It wasn’t the ideal start for the John A. Holmes football team.

Maybe it was the chilly temperatures at kickoff, not playing a game in two weeks because of a bye week or facing conference foe Manteo for the second time this season.

Whatever the case, the early segment of the first quarter was dotted with mistakes by the Aces.

Fortunately for the Edenton faithful, Nakevin Hill lit the fuse to jump start the Aces.

The junior reeled in two interceptions and returned one for a touchdown as the Aces defeated Manteo 42-13 on Friday night in the second round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 1AA state playoffs at John A. Holmes High School.

With the win, Edenton (11-1), the No. 2 seed in the 1AA East Region, advances to the third round and will host No. 6 seed Lakewood this Friday.

Lakewood (11-2) defeated No. 3 seed East Carteret 41-40 on Friday night on the road.

“I thought that we played good at times,” Edenton coach Paul Hoggard said. “We weren’t quite as sharp.”

The Edenton coach added that he thought the week off may have affected the team a little bit.

“Overall, I thought that we played pretty well,” Hoggard said.

Part of the slow start for the Aces included a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown that was nullified because of an Edenton penalty on the return.

Two plays after the punt return, the Aces fumbled near midfield.

Combined with that, Manteo (9-4) had success with the short passing game as senior quarterback Will Brown connected with James Gilreath and Ian Johnson with passes near the sideline.

The Redskins also mixed in the power running game with senior fullback Thatcher Tillett, listed at 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, finding holes in the Aces’ defense.

Hoggard had praise for Manteo, which is a rival to Edenton in the Albemarle Athletic Conference.

The Redskins provided a touch more resistance against the Aces on Friday than in their first meeting on Oct. 27, which was a 50-7 Edenton win.

“I think their kids played really well, especially early in the game,” Hoggard said.

Manteo moved the ball to the Aces’ 15-yard line, but on second down, a fade pass into the end zone was intercepted by Hill.

“The interception was big,” Hoggard said. “It turned things around for us.”

After the first drive hiccup, the Edenton offense went to its signature dive play to Bailey, who broke a 66-yard run to put the Aces inside the Manteo 20-yard line.

A few plays later, Dequantae Spruill cashed in with a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Aces a 6-0 lead with 59 seconds remaining in the quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Hill intercepted his second pass of the game as the defensive back settled under the pass, cut across the field, and with the help from a key block from Zakeem Brooks, returned the interception 44 yards down the Manteo sideline for a touchdown to up the Aces lead to 14-0.

“It means a lot,” Hill said of his two interceptions. “I did it for my team.”

Xavius Capehart also had a solid game as the senior linebacker made a tackle in the backfield on Tillett on fourth and short to force a turnover on downs late in the second quarter.

Edenton added another 21 points to take a 35-0 lead at halftime.

Spruill, Bailey and Mitjonta Stanley added scoring runs in the second frame.

Hill used his hands on offense as he reeled in a Stanley 28-yard pass late in the second quarter. The pass set up a Bailey 1-yard touchdown run to put Edenton up 35 points at intermission.

A Spruill 54-yard touchdown run on Edenton’s first drive of the third quarter extended the Edenton lead to 42-0, which started a running clock.

Spruill, a senior, finished with 64 yards with three touchdowns, Bailey had 158 rushing yards with a touchdown and Stanley posted 42 rushing yards.

The future appears to be bright at the quarterback position for Manteo as sophomore Bryson Sawyer connected on a pair of long passes down the field when Edenton had some backups in the game in the fourth quarter.

Sawyer’s first deep pass to Claveon Rice for 38-yards set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Sawyer to end the Edenton shutout bid.

In the final minutes of the game, Sawyer went deep and connected with a wide open Caz Wheeler for a 57-yard touchdown.

The Aces will host a third round state playoff game on the Friday after Thanksgiving for the first time since the 2014 season when Clinton visited Edenton in a 2A state playoff contest.

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