Aces cruise to win over Red Barons

John A. Holmes 56 Gates 7

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Edenton's Mitjonta Stanley (with ball) surpassed 2,000 rushing yards on the season in the win, Friday.

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By David Gough
Sports Writer

Sunday, October 21, 2018

EDENTON — Friday night’s game between John A. Holmes and Gates decided who would get a stranglehold of first place in the Albemarle Athletic Conference football standings.

Both teams came in as the only unbeatens left in conference play with identical records, but the game was all but decided by halftime.

The home team looked every bit of first place from start to finish as the Aces defeated the Red Barons 56-7.

“I thought we played pretty well all around,” John A. Holmes coach Paul Hoggard said.

The Aces (7-1, 3-0 AAC) shot out of the gate quickly with an explosive 21-point first quarter.

Senior Chace Kelly had an impressive 35-yard opening kickoff return. Coupled with a Gates (6-2, 2-1 AAC) penalty, John A. Holmes started right around midfield.

A few plays later, on his first carry of the game, junior Mitjonta Stanley ran 51 yards for a touchdown and it certainly wasn’t the last time his name was called on.

On the next two Aces possessions, Stanley had multiple carries that eventually ended in touchdowns 31 and 32 on the year for him as John A. Holmes jumped out to a 21-0 lead fewer than ten minutes into the game.

Stanley later added his fourth touchdown of the game with under five minutes to go in the second quarter to give his team a 35-7 advantage. That time, the running back ran a game-long 79 yards down the field.

He had 14 carries on the night, all in the first half, for 328 rushing yards and surpassed the 2,000-yard mark for the season on his final touch of the game.

“He’s a special player and a great kid,” Hoggard said. “He’s very humble, never says anything and never complains. Just goes and gets it done, and had another great night.”

John A. Holmes’ other first-half score came from quarterback Kentreaz Coston’s legs. The senior, who finished with 91 yards on seven keepers, scored on a 3rd-and-goal play from the 15-yard line to give the Aces a 27-7 lead at the time.

They added three more touchdowns in the second half with a nifty 36-yard punt return from junior Keenan Downing and short runs from Kelly and freshman Malachi White.

On the other side, Gates’ offense could never find its rhythm.

Premier running back Greg Crandol, who rushed for more than 150 yards last week at Perquimans, was held to just seven yards on seven carries Friday.

The Red Barons ultimately became one-dimensional and relied on the strong arm of senior quarterback Jawan Riddick.

Riddick was able to create some big plays, including a 64-yard touchdown to Tyrell Holley to get Gates within 21-7 in the first quarter, but he was only able to complete 11 of 29 passes in the game.

Before the Red Barons’ lone touchdown, Riddick and a couple open receivers missed opportunities to connect on big plays downfield.

After their only touchdown, Gates had a couple more productive drives end abruptly thanks to big plays from the John A. Holmes secondary.

Nakevin Hill picked Riddick off in the end zone late in the second quarter, while Zakeem Brooks intercepted Riddick on the very next Gates drive at the Aces’ 15-yard line.

“We did a really good job containing (Riddick),” Hoggard said. “We had a great week of preparation. We probably had our best week of practice that we had this year. It carried over to the game.”

Riddick has also found some success in the running game this season, but he was unable to make any big gains with his feet much like his teammate Crandol.

John A. Holmes’ win puts it all alone in first place in the conference and it comes with some breathing room with two conference games remaining now having beaten the Red Barons.

The Aces’ final two conference games are against Manteo and Perquimans.

“(Tonight) was important,” Hoggard said. “It was a big matchup the way it worked out, but we can’t be satisfied with where we’re at. Manteo will be tough. Coach Sawyer does a great job and we’ll have to get prepared for that game.”