The showdown for first place in the Greater Neuse River 4A turned out to be a one-sided affair Friday night. Vincent Jefferies threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, while Raekwon Britton blocked a pair of punts resulting in a touchdown and a safety as Garner blew past Knightdale 42-7.
By Mike Potter
GARNER – The showdown for first place in the Greater Neuse River 4A turned out to be a one-sided affair Friday night.
Vincent Jefferies threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, while Raekwon Britton blocked a pair of punts resulting in a touchdown and a safety as Garner blew past Knightdale 42-7.
The result, Garner’s 29th straight regular-season win, improved the Trojans to 9-0, 5-0 in GNRC play. Knightdale, which has not beaten Garner in eight tries, fell to 6-2 and 4-1.
Jefferies completed six of 11 passes for 131 yards and three scores – two to Armani Lanier – while Raevon Smith carried 16 times for 114 yards for the Trojans.
“Any time you can score on defense or in the kicking game, it’s big,” Garner coach Nelson Smith said. “Just like last week, we gave up an early touchdown. We knew (Johnson) was special, and I was proud of the way our defense slowed him down a little bit.
“The kids did a good job against the run. We’ve got to correct some things in the secondary, but it we were real game in most phases of the game.”
Marquavious Johnson led Knightdale’s offense, rushing 24 times for 113 yards and a touchdown and completing five of 15 for 90 yards.
“If the sun doesn’t come up tomorrow we’ve got a different set of problems,” Knightdale coach Rob Senseney said. “We felt good when we scored early, but we had some snafus on special teams that we hadn’t had all year long and we started getting tight.”
Knightdale got some lightning early in the first quarter, as Johnson went left-to-right on a quarterback draw and scampered 75 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown. Taylor Betts added the conversion kick with 8:47 left in the period.
But the rest of the first half was all Garner.
The Trojans responded on their next drive, with Tyler Hinton bulling in from a yard out to complete a 12-play 55-yard drive at 4:28. Kenneth Perkinson’s kick was blocked and it stayed 7-6.
And the Trojans took the lead on their next possession, as Jefferies broke a quarterback keeper for a 28-yard scoring sprint up the middle. His conversion pass was awry and Garner led 12-7.
The Trojans made it 14-7 on the first play of the second quarter, as Britton blocked a Knightdale punt out of the end zone.
And then Jefferies began to find Lanier. He hit the senior in the left corner of the end zone from 26 yards out with 11:13 left in the half, then found him for a 63-yard bomb at 2:13 to help the Trojans to a 27-7 advantage at the break.
“We just had great teamwork tonight,” Jefferies said. “I felt like we played together really well. Knightdale is a good team, and we know that when we have ‘Trojans’ on our chests we know we’re going to get everybody’s best shots.”
Garner put it away on its first possession of the second half following an onside kick by the Knights. The Trojans went 70 yards in 12 plays, with Jefferies finding Terry Gilman open in the back of the end zone. Jefferies hit Lanier for the two-point conversion to make it 35-7.
Garner added seven more with 2:01 left in the third, as Britton blocked his second punt of the game and Tre Perry recovered the ball in the end zone with Perkinson’s conversion kick making it 42-7.
“It was a battle in the trenches, but the guys up front got the job done,” Raevon Smith said. “Knightdale is one of the best teams we’ve played. But we’ve still got Southeast Raleigh next week and that’s all we’ll be thinking about.”
Knightdale would finish at least second in the conference if it can win at Harnett Central on Friday night and then top Clayton in its season finale, but would need a lot of help to catch Garner.
“We came out ready to play, and my line did a good job of blocking,” Johnson said. “We knew Garner was a good team. We’ve just got to keep fighting.”