KNIGHTDALE — Knightdale fed off a pair of East Wake turnovers, then held off an East Wake rally to win its border battle, 30-21, on Friday.
Knightdale, ranked No. 1 in the area, improved to 9-1 overall and completed an undefeated Greater Neuse River 4A Conference season with six wins. The loss nixed any chance at a playoff berth for East Wake (4-7, 3-3).
“It’s just a typical East Wake-Knightdale game,” Knightdale coach Rob Senseney said. “It’s always been tight. I don’t think its ever not been tight here. It’s a big win, a hard-fought win.”
Knightdale looked comfortable entering the second half with a 21-7 lead, but East Wake came out on a mission to mount a comeback like it had in other games throughout the season.
The Warriors cut the deficit to one possession with five minutes left in the third quarter on a 4-yard run by Damontay Rhem and Jonathan Adams’ kick.
Knightdale’s next possession ended with a 15-yard touchdown run by Nate Harvey, but Taylor Betts’ extra point attempt missed its mark, leaving the Knights up 27-14. Rhem, who finished with 200 yards on 20 carries, then made the most of good field position and a pass interference call, leaping over the goal line for a 2-yard score to pull the Warriors back within 27-21.
The Knights denied a fourth-down attempt by East Wake on their own 39 with about six minutes to play. From there, the Knights depended on Lamont Chaney and Harvey to carry the team into the East Wake red zone, where Betts redeemed himself with a 33-yard field goal to put the game away.
“I’m a soccer player, first, so to know I could help my team like that – to win a game like this my senior year, on senior night – it’s amazing,” Betts said.
East Wake scored on the game’s opening drive with a 1-yard run by Rhem.
Knightdale’s first-half scores came on runs of 8 and 9 yards by quarterback Marquavious Johnson, who added a 5-yard touchdown pass to Chaney.
Two of Johnson’s first-half scores came after Warrior turnovers – an interception by Marcell Johnson and a fumble recovery by Travius Hyman, respectively.
“(Knightdale) was probably the best defense we played all year, as far as secondary play and just the pure rush they put on Trent (Evans),” East Wake coach John Poulnott said. “That cost us a number of turnovers. That’s been our thorn all year – we’ve had costly turnovers.”
Johnson finished with 100 yards on 19 carries, while Harvey had 131 yards on 21 carries for the Knights.
Knightdale is set to host Southern Alamance for a first-round playoff game Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Triton 41, Corinth Holders 14
Triton earned a decisive 41-14 victory Friday on the road against Corinth Holders to gain second place in the Two Rivers 3A conference and host a first-round playoff game in this week’s NCHSAA playoffs.
The Triton defense forced four turnovers, allowing the offense to capitalize on three of them with touchdowns.
Triton quarterback Jeremy Leggett had a hand in the Hawks’ first five touchdowns – running for three and passing for two more.
Trailing 7-0 early, after Corinth Holders (7-4, 2-3) scored on its first possession, Triton made use of the defense’s first fumble recovery at the Pirates’ 25-yard line. Four plays later, Leggett’s 11-yard run evened the score 7-7 in the first quarter.
On the next possession, Triton’s Latrell White intercepted Cole Sakowski and returned it 15 yards to the Pirates’ 40-yard line. The Hawks worked it down to the 1-yard line. On fourth-and-goal, Leggett’s keeper barely sneaked over the goal line for the score. Ricardo Hernandez’s kick made 14-7 in the first quarter.
Midway through the second quarter, the Triton defense stopped the Pirates on a fourth-and-5 play at the Hawks’ 32-yard line.
Leggett responded with a 37-yard pass to Matthew Webb. A 15-yard personal foul called on Corinth Holders for a helmet-to-helmet hit moved the ball to the Pirates’ 17-yard line. Two plays later, Leggett hit Todd Penny for a 9-yard touchdown pass to put the Hawks up 21-7.
Triton (9-2, 4-1) scored on its first possession of the second half with a clock-eating 14-play, 57-yard drive capped by a 4-yard TD run by Leggett. The Hawks led 28-7.
Corinth Holders answered with a 59-yard drive ending in a 2-yard scoring run by Butler Collins to make it 28-14 late in the third quarter. After that it was all Triton.
Leggett connected with D’Angelo Harris on a 6-yard score to go up 35-14. On the ensuing possession, Harris’ interception killed a Pirates drive in Triton territory.
Zach Wade’s 39-yard touchdown run on the next possession capped the scoring in the game.