HOLLY SPRINGS — The Holly Springs home crowd rose to its feet, expecting a play that could change the game. And they got one, though it only pleased the fans from Middle Creek.
Facing a 3rd-and-10 from his own 35-yard line, Mustangs quarterback David Salmon found receiver Jay Schuller near the left sideline and completed a 45-yard pass that tailed toward the sideline and dropped in right over Schuller’s right shoulder.
It quieted the crowd. Two plays later, Devonne Johnson delivered the game's knockout blow with a 29-yard touchdown.
After trading touchdowns for almost the entire game, Middle Creek defeated Holly Springs 66-46, setting a school record for points scored but more importantly, clinching the Tri-9 Conference outright.
The Mustangs (9-1, 7-0) have won at least a share of the conference in three of the last four years.
Middle Creek, which didn’t punt until the first few plays of the fourth quarter, scored first on an 18-yard touchdown run by Naylaan Lopez.
Holly Springs (4-5, 3-4) answered with a five-yard touchdown run by Nehemiah Harris, who had three scores on the night.
The Mustangs fumbled on their next drive to set up a 33-yard field goal by Holly Springs’ Tyler Shade, and the Golden Hawks led 10-7.
Middle Creek running back Devonne Johnson, who had more than 200 yards rushing, ran in a 56-yard touchdown, followed by a 15-yard Salmon touchdown run on the next drive to make it 21-10.
In the last 10 minutes of the second quarter, Holly Springs added a 58-yard touchdown run by Kelvin Wilson, a one-yard touchdown run from Harris and a 49-yard touchdown pass from Brett Hudspeth to Daniel Nash on a fake punt. In the same time span, Middle Creek added a one-yard touchdown run from Lopez and two touchdown passes from Salmon to Quinton Ray of 57 and 28 yards, respectively.
The Mustangs led 42-31 at halftime, then scored on its fourth play in the second half as Salmon found Demetrius Wilkins from 11 yards out.
Holly Springs used a 19-play drive that ended in a Kelvin Wilson 8-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 49-38. The Hawks seemed to benefit from the rest its defense received on that drive, finally forcing the Mustangs to punt on the next drive.
Holly Springs scored with 7:27 left in the game on a 26-yard run by Harris, then added a two-point conversion as Hudspeth found Joey Gizzi to make it 49-46.
Johnson made sure the Mustangs came away with the win, however, running touchdowns from 29 and 60 yards each.
Holly Springs had two turnovers on its last two drives, its first turnovers of the game. One led to a 20-yard field goal by Kimmie Pittman, who also plays on the school’s girls’ soccer and girls’ basketball teams.
Blake: 919-460-2606 or twitter.com/JMBpreps