SANFORD — The football players from Holly Springs and Lee County went through their walkthrough before Fridays regular season finale with a view of a beautiful sunset in the distance.
It was an appropriate sight, as it marked Lees last regular season game as a 4A team, a classification the Yellow Jackets have been a part of since the mid 1970s.
Although the sun may be setting on Lees 4A run, the Yellow Jackets still have one more postseason to play in before joining the Cape Fear Valley 3A conference next season.
Lee finished in sole possession of second place in the Tri-Nine conference with a 28-21 victory over the Golden Hawks, led by James Foushees three touchdowns, the stellar defensive plays of senior Kyle Flood and three third quarter scores in the span of 19 seconds.
The Yellow Jackets (8-3 overall, 6-2 Tri-9) will host their first playoff game since 2005, the year Southern Lee opened. Lee will keep one Tri-Nine team, Athens Drive, on its schedule next year.
The score was tied 7-7 at intermission. James Foushee rumbled for a 17-yard touchdown to put Lee ahead 14-7 with 7:37 left in the period . The Yellow Jackets then recovered the ensuing kickoff when the ball took an odd bounce into the arms of T.J. Lett.
JLan Fleary threw a 21-yard option touchdown pass to Ray J. McCauley, and on the Golden Hawks next possession, Flood forced a fumble. Foushee scored for the third time at the 7:18 mark to give the Yellow Jackets a 28-7 advantage.
Chase Arrington led Lee with 113 yards on the ground.
The Golden Hawks (4-6, 3-5) scored twice in the final period to make it close. Sophomore Nehemiah Harris led Holly Springs with two touchdowns and 109 yards rushing, while senior Brett Hudspeth connected with classmate Evan Allen on a 37-yard scoring pass which was deflected twice.
Holly Springs will miss the postseason for the third consecutive year, but the Golden Hawks did begin to show a potent offense during the last few games, scoring 48 and 46 points against Fuquay-Varina and conference champ Middle Creek respectively.
These seniors bought in and have been a great group to work with, said Holly Springs head coach Will Orbin. They did a great job this year, tonight we just had a span there where things broke the wrong way for us.