WENDELL — Barry Honeycutt and his Corinth Holders football team are having a whole lot of fun right now.
It’s only the third year of the Pirates’ varsity program, which lost its first 16 games before recovering to earn a 2AA playoff berth last season.
But this time, they’re winning like they’ve never won before.
Elliott Lindley went in from 2 yards out with 1:38 to play Friday night, locking up a 21-10 victory over Bunn that made the Pirates 3-1 for the first time.
It was a matchup of former rivals from the Northern Carolina 2A, and both previous meetings had been easy wins for Bunn (1-3), the two-time defending conference champion. The Pirates are now members of the Two Rivers 3A but won’t start conference play until Oct. 11.
“This game was huge for us, because they’ve pretty much dominated us two years in a row,” Honeycutt said. “They’re a real good football team. So to win a game like this means a lot to us and gives our kids a lot of confidence and a lot to build on.”
“We’ve had a tough time getting to 3-1, but that just builds confidence and toughness. We’ve got an experienced defensive front that has done a great job all year long.”
Corinth Holders’ Cole Sakowski completed 10 of 14 passes for 185 yards with one touchdown and an interception, and added 61 yards rushing on 13 carries. Hampton Smith caught four passes for 98 yards and the touchdown.
“We’ve been working hard all summer, lifting weights and getting bigger and faster and stronger,” Sakowski said. “This one just makes us believe even more. We had a few mistakes tonight, but we keep improving. And we got our best win ever tonight.”
Ashton Avery led Bunn with 67 yards on 16 carries.
The Pirates led 6-0 at halftime. Corinth Holders scored on its second drive of the game, a seven-play, 63-yard march with Darris Grandberry going around right end from two yards out for the score.
Bunn’s best threat in the half came on the first play of the second quarter, when UNC-bound Freeman Jones was short on a 54-yard field-goal attempt.
The Pirates made it 14-0 with 6:04 left in the third, as Sakowski hit Smith for a 32-yard TD pass and connected with him again on the two-point conversion.
“That one felt good,” Smith said. “I’m just trying to help the team out. Nobody but us believes in us, but we’re trying to be the hammer and not the nail.”
Bunn cut the lead in half with 10:31 left when Tevin Perry burst up the middle for a 24-yard score to finish a 10-play, 76-yard drive. Jones added the conversion.
Jones cut it to 14-10 on a 27-yard field goal with exactly seven minutes left, four plays after the Wildcats’ Devante Caldwell stripped Smith of the ball at the Pirates’ 18.
But Lindley iced the result with 1:38 left when he scored on a 2-yard run with Farmer adding the kick. Lindley’s 24-yard run to the 1 was the key play of the eight-play, 72-yard march.
“That run felt great,” said Lindley, who also started the game at linebacker. “The linemen gave me a big hole and I just ran through it.”
“Our defense has really come together as a family and as a team. Everyone’s being disciplined and taking care of his responsibilities.”
Bunn was coached by offensive coordinator Chris Lewis, who guides the team on Friday nights whenever head coach David Howle is away to watch his son Ty play center at Penn State.
“We just had a bunch of miscues,” Lewis said. “I thought we blocked pretty well, but we didn’t hit the holes. Give credit to Corinth. They’re a good team.”
“But we’ll be back. We play our archrivals (Louisburg) next week.”