LILLINGTON — Purnell Swett coach Mark Heil planned on opening up the offense Thursday night at Western Harnett.
He wanted to pass more than usual, getting away from the Rams’ conventional two-back rushing attack.
With senior quarterback Chase Armstrong as his extension of the coaching staff, the Rams unloaded on their opponent for a second straight week — this time through the air — dismantling the Eagles, 53-7.
Despite 343 yards and a 34-point first half, Heil wasn’t satisfied with his team’s performance and said holes were noticeable throughout the game. Despite 109 total points through two games, the offense needs to run without a hitch, according to Heil.
“We’re fortunate enough that we have a lot of good weapons and we’re trying to use all of them,” Heil said. “I still don’t think we’re clicking. I still don’t think we’re playing as sharp of football as we can.”
The Rams (2-0) ran 38 plays from scrimmage in the first half and totaled 236 yards, tallying five plays that covered at least 20 yards. Swett scored touchdowns on each of its first four drives, sandwiched between Josh Oxendine’s 6-yard blocked punt return for a score.
“We’re happy, but we have to get better,” Heil said. “The schedule is getting a lot tougher.”
Armstrong delivered another accurate outing under center for the Rams, completing 8-of-15 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns in the opening 24 minutes. Armstrong’s touchdowns came on consecutive possessions in the second quarter, the first coming on a 7-yard slant on third-and-goal to Sikia Artis. Armstrong faked a hand-off to Juan Jones, who was coming in motion to find Artis wide open in the center of the end zone.
“We wanted to hit the flats and get outside on the perimeter,” Armstrong said. “We’re still not playing the best that we can. I thought we did OK, but we could’ve done better.”
Western Harnett (1-1) ended Swett’s second straight shutout bid with 4:45 left to play against the Rams’ second-team defense. Quarterback Randy McNeill hooked up with C.J. Hobbs for a 13-yard touchdown pass across the middle on second down, just out of the reach of a pursuing linebacker.
Swett’s first-team defense forced six turnovers and recorded four sacks, quieting an Eagles’ rushing attack that notched 303 yards in last week’s win over South Robeson. The Rams scored their second touchdown of the season on defense with 2:19 left in the third quarter after Joe Swett stepped in front of an Eric Gonzales pass and beat him to the pylon for a 55-yard interception return.
Swett’s pick-six gave the Rams a commanding 47-0 lead. Telvin Clark, Travion Pearson and Cedric Alston each recorded interceptions. Clark had his — a 52-yard touchdown return — called back for an illegal block.
“I just took my drop step and read the quarterback’s eyes,” Swett said. “We wanted to do a better job of getting to the quarterback tonight because we knew they would throw some against us.”
Heil wants to see his defense play fundamentally sound on every snap, not in spurts.
“We’re still not tackling well,” he said. “Our tackling is not good and we’re not running to the football very well. We were sloppy at times tonight.”