KNIGHTDALE — Knightdale’s football team spent the past year thinking about its Oct. 25 date with Garner.
The Knights knew there were nine other games on their schedule, but the story of their 2013 season would be written when they lined up against the Trojans.
Friday night, Knightdale (8-1, 5-0) wrote a happy ending to that story, outscoring Garner 48-45 for its first win over the Trojans. The win also meant the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference’s No. 1 playoff seeding and the conference championship.
“It feels great, for the kids, our coaches,” Knights coach Rob Senseney said. “They got the job done and fought for this. We were in the same position last year, going in there (to Garner) undefeated in the conference and we lost 42-7. We remembered that.”
Senior quarterback Marquavious Johnson led a Knightdale offensive attack that was even more explosive than normal. Johnson ran for a career-high 334 yards and five touchdowns on just 22 carries.
His 56-yard jaunt for a touchdown with 3 minutes, 55 seconds to play put the Knights up 10.
“I saw brother (Marcell Johnson) out in front of me and when he got that block I knew I was gone and we had a pretty good chance of winning,” Marquavious Johnson said.
The Knights ran for 520 yards and scored on four plays of more than 50 yards. Knightdale fullback Nate Harvey added 123 yards and two touchdown runs.
After Johnson’s last score, Garner marched back downfield to pull within 48-45 on a 23-yard TD connection between Brighton Hudson and Nyheim Hines with 2:09 to play. Hudson threw for 244 yards.
Knightdale wasn’t able to run out the clock and punted the ball back to Garner. But with no timeouts the Trojans’ last-gasp bid for a win ended at midfield as the Knightdale students rushed the field to celebrate with their team.
“We’ve wanted to beat Garner (7-3, 3-2) since my freshman year,” Marquavious Johnson said. “And to come out here and play like this, it’s a great feeling for us. Our offensive line stepped up and did a heck of a job.”
Hines had another huge night for Garner, with 213 yards rushing and 91 yards receiving.
Knightdale jumped out to a 27-6 lead before the Trojans started to work their way back into the game. Up 34-19 at the half, the Knights gave up two fumbles to Garner to start the second half, which helped the Trojans get back within a score twice in the fourth quarter.
Harvey scored on a 1-yard TD run that pushed the Knights’ lead to 10 with 7:31 to play.
The Knightdale win breaks Garner’s string of three straight Greater Neuse River 4A Conference championships.
Clayton 35, East Wake 26
Clayton relied on the strength of its rushing attack and a pair of interceptions to hold off a late East Wake rally for a 35-26 win and a big step toward a postseason berth.
The Comets’ Jace Brown, Eric Hoy and Rodney Rowe combined for 329 yards on the ground, but in the end it was Blake Joyner’s two interceptions – including one late in the fourth quarter – that proved to be just enough to out-duel Warriors quarterback Trent Evans and his 312 yards of total offense.
Clayton wasted little time setting the tone as Evans was flushed out of the pocket on his first drop back of the game. The defensive pressure resulted in a ball lofted into the Clayton secondary, where Joyner snagged the pass and rumbled 43 yards for a touchdown just 18 seconds into the contest.
After falling behind 28-6 at halftime and 35-12 late in the fourth quarter, Evans connected with Quincy Jackson for a 53-yard touchdown pass and Damontay Rhem added a 9-yard rushing score to close East Wake (3-6, 2-2 Greater Neuse River 4A) to within the 35-26 score.
With just under five minutes left and the Warriors at midfield threatening to make it a one-possession game, Evans threw deep for Evan Finch only to have Joyner make a leaping interception at the Clayton 10 to preserve the win.
Brown took over from there to melt the clock and push the Comets to 6-3 overall and 2-2 in the GNRC.
“Clayton did a great job with time management,” East Wake coach John Poulnott said. “It’s hard when you’ve got a team like them that pounds the ball the way they do when you get behind by 14 points to find some extra possessions and they’re just killing the clock.”
Hoy led Clayton with 127 yards on ten rushes with one going for a score. Brown added 117 yards and Rowe pitched in with 85 yards and a pair of first-half scores.
Evans finished his night with 213 yards on 17-of-29 passing and also rushed for 99 yards on just nine carries, most coming from eluding the Clayton pass rush. Jackson finished with five catches for 113 yards and the long touchdown reception.
Cleveland 34, Corinth Holders 32
Aaron Farmer ran for 111 yards and three touchdowns and Isaac Martin ran for 126 and another score as Cleveland held off Corinth Holders 34-32 in their Two Rivers 3A showdown.
The Rams won despite a career-type night from Pirates quarterback Cole Sakowski, who completed 26 of 36 passes for 310 yards and four touchdowns. Sakowski completed 13 straight during one stretch in the first half.
Cleveland improved to 6-3 overall and 3-0 in the conference, while the Pirates fell to 6-3 and 1-2.
With each school in its fourth year, the teams were squaring off as conference foes for the first time. The Rams, who had won the first two varsity meetings by a total score of 118-19, were previously in the Eastern Carolina 3A; the Pirates were in the Northern Carolina 2A.
The Pirates got onto the board on their second possession, going 42 yards in four plays with Sakowski connecting with Tori Carmichael – who was lost later in the first half to a possible broken right leg – on a 28-yard scoring pass. Daniel Farmer added the conversion kick with 5:54 left in the first quarter.
Corinth Holders doubled its lead at the 3:15 mark, as Sakowski connected with Hampton Smith from 4 yards out to end a three-play, 45-yard drive, and Daniel Farmer added the kick. He added a 19-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the quarter.
Aaron Farmer got the Rams on the board with 8:54 left in the half, making a 1-yard plunge to finish a five-play, 47-yard march. T.J. DeLuca added the kick.
Daniel Farmer punched in a 29-yard field goal to give the Pirates a 20-7 lead with 3:38 left in the half, but the Rams took advantage of a fumble for another Aaron Farmer touchdown from 9 yards out to finish a three-play, 15-yard drive with 39.6 left in the half.
Cleveland took the margin to 34-26 on a 2-yard run from Martin with 3:46 left in the third quarter, followed by DeLuca’s kick. The Pirates cut it back to two on Sakowski’s 13-yard pass to Matt Good at 6:19 in the fourth, but the conversion pass came up short.
Corinth Holders got the ball for one final play in the closing seconds but ran out of downs near midfield.