GARNER — It was fitting that Garner wore the blue Friday night. The Trojans had their yeoman’s work wear on in a 28-0 victory over longtime rival Clayton.
It was fitting that Garner wore the blue Friday night.
The Trojans had their yeoman’s work wear on in a 28-0 victory over longtime rival Clayton.
Top-ranked Garner (5-0) opened the game with a seven-plus minute scoring drive, converted on key third down after key third down and turned back the 17th-ranked Comets (2-3) in both teams’ Greater Neuse River 4A Conference opener.
“We made them work for it,” said long-time Clayton coach Gary Fowler. “There’s not too many times that Garner takes seven minutes to score. We felt good about that: they had to work for everything they got.”
The Trojans converted on three third downs on the game’s first drive, all with Nyheim Hines picking up the chain-moving yards. Clayton did force a fourth down late in the drive, but Raevon Smith darted around the left side for a 5-yard TD run.
The 16-play drive took seven minutes and nine seconds off of the clock.
The Trojans converted on 66 percent (4-of-6) of their third down conversions in the first half.
“It shows you we’re executing in the big, key plays,” said Garner quarterback Vince Jeffries of his team’s third-down proficiency. “We’ve got a lot of heart and fight in us.”
Turnovers marred two Garner drives in the first half with Clayton defensive lineman Demage Bailey collecting them both.
The Trojans’ lead was still just seven late in the second quarter, but Jeffries hit Armani Lanier in stride in the corner of the end zone on a post corner route for a 30-yard TD with 1:44 to play in the half.
“We made the big play before the half and put us in a lot better situation entering the second half,” Smith said. “We didn’t play that bad. Sure there were some things we could have done better.
“But Clayton’s a heck of a football team. … They’ve been some adversity and survived it. They’re no 2-3 football team.”
The 28 points scored was 18 less than Garner’s average for the season coming into the game.
The Comets went for it on fourth down on their first drive of the second half, but Garner’s Carrington Austin made the tackle three yards short of the line to gain.
The Trojans held Clayton to 160 yards of offense on the night.
“The defense stepped up, gave us time to finish another drive on offense,” Jeffries said. “Our defensive guys get all the props tonight.”
Garner followed with another clock-churning, a four-minute affair, capped by a 5-yard Hines run.
Hines, with his workload increased with starter Raevon Smith had to leave the game with an injury, finished with 115 yards rushing on 13 carries and 42 yards receiving. Smith isn’t expected to miss much time. His 44-yard TD run in the fourth quarter wrapped up the scoring.
Tam Barbour finished with 47 yards rushing to lead Clayton, which couldn’t get any closer to the Trojan goal line than the 39-yard line.
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