BENSON — In its Greater Neuse River Conference opener against West Johnston, Knightdale had the answer any time the Wildcats threatened to take control of the game: Nate Harvey.
The senior tailback rushed for 199 yards on 23 carries, including two pivotal touchdowns in the second half to hold off a spirited West Johnston rally for a 24-10 victory.
The Knights took an 18-0 lead in the third quarter on a four-yard touchdown run from Harvey.
But it was after the Wildcats drew to within 18-10 on a Tre Frederick short yardage rushing score when the Knights needed Harvey most.
Up just one possession, Knightdale responded with an eight play, 89-yard drive that was highlighted by a Harvey 50-yard run on third down, a 23-yard pickup on fourth-and-7 and finally another score from four yards out.
Nate played a great game, Knightdale coach Robert Senseney said. He ran the ball hard but thats also a testament to our offensive line they did a great job tonight.
Alex Mattes got the Wildcats on the board with a 34-yard field goal in the third quarter before Frederick ran it in from one yard out after a key 40-yard punt return.
After forcing a three-and-out, West Johnston drove the ball to the Knightdale 10-yard line with a chance to potentially tie the game before failing to convert on fourth down.
The kids are playing hard, West Johnston coach Jimmy Williams said. I believe that if we keep fighting, that good things will happen.
Theyre a scrappy bunch and they never quit and Im proud of them for that.
Knightdale jumped out to the lead in the first half with a 12-play, 80-yard drive that featured six runs and five passes and culminated with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Marquavious Johnson to Daquan Lilly in the corner of the end zone.
The Knights next scoring drive was a little more direct as Marcell Johnson took the handoff on the jet sweep and went untouched for a 56-yard scamper for the 12-0 lead.
Jarvin Holder threw for 159 yards for West Johnston while his counterpart, Marquavious Johnson, passed for 108 yards.