FOUR OAKS — Ever since the generation-long streak ended, South Johnston has been golden against county rival Smithfield-Selma.
And that continued on Friday night at Avery Stadium, as Romello Toleito rushed for 73 yards and two touchdowns and SSS transfer JaQuan Hooks rushed for 77 yards and another score as the Trojans won 34-7.
It was the fourth straight win in the series for South (3-1).
“Obviously SSS has always got a lot of meaning for us,” South coach Shane Dular said. “Nobody forgets all those years of us losing to them. We’ve got guys on our staff who were part of that. It’s important to them, because all our kids know their kids.
“SSS is getting better. Coach (David) Lawhon is doing a great job. We wanted to be at least 3-1 right now and heading in the right direction.”
SSS (0-4), which has now lost 23 straight games, had won the first 35 meetings in the series until South broke the jinx in 2008 en route to the Eastern 3-A championship.
It was the final non-conference game of the regular season for both teams before South begins Eastern Carolina 3A and SSS goes into Greater Neuse River 4A play. The two will be conference rivals next season when the Spartans move down to 3A.
“We didn’t play for 48 minutes,” said first-year SSS coach Lawhon. “We played hard at times, but we can’t afford to let up ever. They’ve got some good athletes over there and took it to the house. They caught us off-guard with a hurry-up offense. I think our hearts were in it but the effort wasn’t.”
Hassan Yates led the SSS offense, carrying 17 times for 38 yards and a score while completing three of four passes for 39 yards.
South led 21-7 at halftime, scoring on its first two possessions. The Trojans took the opening kickoff and went 65 yards in nine plays, with Toleito going in from two yards out to make it 6-0.
On their second drive, quarterback Garrett Smith went 16 yards around left end to finish a five-play, 80-yard drive with David Ennis on the conversion run.
It went to 21-0 with 8:07 left in the half, as a 29-yard Toleito scamper finished a four-play, 80-yard drive with Payton Lee adding the boot.
“We’ve got a great O-line,” said Toleito, a sophomore who stands 5-foot-4. “Size doesn’t matter when those guys block the way they do.”
SSS responded 10 seconds before intermission, as Yates went in from three yards out to finish a 69-yard, 13-play drive. Chris Parker added the kick.
“It felt good to score,” Yates said. “I just want to help my team get a win. We’re progressing everywhere. The margins are inching down. We just had too many mental mistakes tonight.”
The Trojans made it 28-7 on a two-yard Clarence Crawford run and Yovani Herrera’s kick with 2:19 left in the third. The score came on the third play after Tyler Barefoot recovered a Spartan fumble at the SSS 48.
Hooks scored on a one-yard run with 7:44 to go to finish the scoring.
“I loved how they treated me like family as soon as I got here,” Hooks said. “I trust my line, follow my lead blockers and keep my feet moving.”