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Raiders erase early deficit

By STEVE BARNES

Washington Daily News

The Pungo Christian Academy Raiders were down 14-0 to the Bethel Academy Trojans of Kinston late in the first quarter but roared back for a 46-22 victory Friday afternoon at R.H. Bishop Athletic Field.

Junior running back Fortino Beltran erupted for six touchdowns and over 300 total yards to lead the Raiders offense. He did not play the first two offensive series because of a sore groin muscle that kept him out of practice all week. With his team trailing by two touchdowns, the shifty speedster broke several tackles on his way to a 51-yard touchdown run on his first carry.

“I looked at one of my assistants and said we better get him in there,” said head coach Stacey Keech, whose team is 2-0. “We were being careful with him because he hadn’t practiced, but he sure gave us a lift when we needed it.”

A 26-yard halfback pass from Josh Reynolds to Devin Cadle tied the score at 14. Bethel capped a long drive with a one-yard run with 29 seconds left in the first half for a 22-14 lead, but Beltran scored on a 54-yard reception from Tristan Mann to bring the Raiders to within 22-20 at halftime.

RUNNING FREE: Pungo Christian Academy junior Devin Cadle looks back to find no defenders near him on the way to the endzone. (Steve Barnes/Daily News)

The Pungo defense dominated in the second half with a shutout and Beltran exploded for a 20-yard scoring catch and touchdown runs of 35, 95 and 37 yards that featured cutbacks across the field, hurdling a would-be tackler and leaving two Trojans to crash into each other while grasping at air trying to bring him down.

“Our defense was outstanding in the second half and Fortino made some unbelievable runs,” said Keech. “Bethel has dominated us in the past and I think our guys had that in their minds to begin the game. I’m proud of the way they came back.”

The Raiders continue their season in two weeks at home against Wayne Christian.