WAKE FOREST — In a showdown between two of the top high school football teams in the area, it was the Wake Forest-Rolesville defense that set the tone early and forced a very good Southern Durham team into a frustrating evening as the Cougars notched the 10-0 nonconference win.
Under first-year head coach Reggie Lucas the 3-0 Cougars grabbed their third straight shutout, took advantage of four turnovers, and held the Spartans to minus-yards rushing the ball.
It was a performance that even Lucas could not have predicted.
"To play like that against a team like Southern Durham is something," Lucas said. "Coach [Joe] Kennedy is doing a great job with the defense and the kids are really working hard at it. They're taking pride in what they do."
Wake defensive end Xavier Gill provided the early spark. On the Spartans' third play from scrimmage, Gill recovered a fumble at the Southern 28-yard line, which led to Will Braddy's 29-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.
On its next possession, the Cougars offense put together its longest drive of the night, a 72-yarder that ended with Trea Jones scoring from the 3 with just 50 seconds to go in the first quarter. Braddy then kicked the extra point, but Wake Forest-Rolesville had all it would need.
Jones led a four-pronged rushing attack with his 146 yards on 21 carries. James Harris picked up another 99 yards, and Delano Tavares added 31. Seth Hall had a big second half to finish with 73 more yards, adding to the Cougars' running depth.
"Three of those guys are experienced and our young line did a really good job," Lucas said.
The Cougars ran the ball so well, quarterback Dan Tomchik did not throw the ball in the second half, after completing 3 of 6 passes for 41 yards in the first half.
Gill and fellow tight end Tim McGuire, along with tackles Carl Faison and Shaquan Fraser kept the pressure on Southern quarterback Alan Lea. They got help from linebackers Shawn Jones, Hunter Williams and Mickey McGuire.
"We tell those guys up front for us to be good defensively they've got to get in there, and they take it to heart," Lucas said. "And tonight we were able to pick our spots to blitz and that worked too."
Cornerback Marcus Jones had the two interceptions. He was joined in the secondary by corner Tim Howard and safeties Michael Anthony and Braddy.
"We got behind early, got away from our running game, and I put this loss on me," Southern coach Adrian Jones said. "I've got to do a better job of coaching."