Despite a bundle of penalties that negated big plays, the Burke Bulldogs found a way to hold off the North Charleston Cougars, 34-20, to give Burke head coach Earl Brown Jr. his first career win as a football head coach.
Burke overcame nearly 100 yards in penalties and stepped up defensively in the second half to win the game handily after a slow start at North Charleston.
"With all of our mistakes and penalties, we still had the lead at the half, so I just told our guys to play smarter and we should win the game," said Brown, who replaced his father as head coach after last season.
Burke's running back tandem of Damien Brown and Bakari Blunt led the way, combining for 171 total yards and four touchdowns. Brown finished with 90 yards, scoring on two runs and adding a TD reception. Blunt tallied 81 yards and scored once.
North Charleston, boosted by quarterback Frankie Gordon's 108 yards rushing in the first half, led, 14-6, before Burke scored four unanswered touchdowns to take a commanding 34-14 lead in the fourth quarter.
Burke's defense allowed only 18 total yards in the second half, limiting Gordon to 16 net yards on the ground over the final two periods.
Dawntae Wilder had a 60-yard punt return for a touchdown in the final quarter. Earlier in the game, Blunt's 34-yard punt return to the one set up a score. Blunt also had an interception on defense.
"I was real proud of our effort in the second half," said Brown.
"This is a good win for us. These early season games are a learning process for this team and it's good to experience some success early."
Burke's win snapped a six-game winning streak for North Charleston in the head-to-head series.
NC - Frankie Gordon 4-yard run (pass failed)
B - Damien Brown 14-yard run (pass failed)
NC - Bernard Samuels 20-yard pass from Gordon (Gordon run)
B - Brown 6-yard run (run failed)
B - Brown 12-yard pass from Craig Williams (pass failed)
B - Bakari Blunt 27-yard run (pass to Dawntae Wilder)
B - Wilder 60-yard run (pass to Brown)
NC - Zanerick Dixon 25-yard int. ret (run failed)
Next: Burke at Scott's Branch Friday; North Charleston hosts Baptist Hill.
Records: Burke 1-1, NC 0-2.