KNIGHTDALE — Knightdale’s football team spent the past year thinking about its Oct. 25 date with Garner. The Knights knew there were 10 other games on their schedule, but the story of their 2013 season would be written when they lined up against the Trojans.
Friday night, Knightdale (8-1, 5-0) wrote a happy ending to that story, outscoring Garner 48-45 for its first win over the Trojans, the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference’s No. 1 playoff seeding and a conference championship.
“It feels great, for the kids, our coaches,” Knights coach Rob Senseney said. “They got the job done and fought for this. We were in the same position last year, going in there (to Garner) undefeated in the conference and we lost 42-7. We remembered that.”
Senior quarterback Marquavious Johnson led a Knightdale offensive attack that was even more explosive than normal. Johnson ran for a career-high 334 yards and five touchdowns on just 22 carries.
His 56-yard jaunt for a touchdown with 3 minutes, 55 seconds to play put the Knights up 10.
“I saw brother (Marcell Johnson) out in front of me and when he got that block I knew I was gone and we had a pretty good chance of winning,” Marquavious Johnson said.
The Knights ran for 520 yards and scored on four plays of more than 50 yards. Knightdale fullback Nate Harvey added 123 yards and two touchdown runs.
After Johnson’s last score, Garner marched back downfield to pull within 48-45 on a 23-yard TD connection between Brighton Hudson and Nyheim Hines with 2:09 to play.
Hudson threw for 244 yards.
Knightdale wasn’t able to run out the clock and punted the ball back to Garner but with no timeouts the Trojans’ last-gasp bid for a win ended at midfield as the Knightdale students rushed the field to celebrate with their team.
“We’ve wanted to beat Garner (7-3, 3-2) since my freshman year,” Marquavious Johnson said. “And to come out here and play like this, it’s a great feeling for us. Our offensive line stepped up and did a heck of a job.”
Hines had another huge night for Garner with 213 yards rushing and 91 yards receiving.
Knightdale jumped out to a 27-6 lead before the Trojans started to work their way back into the game. Up 34-19 at the half, the Knights gave up two fumbles to Garner to start the second half, helping the Trojans get back within a score twice in the fourth quarter.
“We battled back,” Garner coach Thurman Leach said. “I thought the biggest play was the fourth and goal. We just needed one more stop.”
Harvey scored on that 1-yard TD run which pushed the Knights’ lead back to 10 with 7:31 to play.
“They made big plays on third-and-10, third-and-11, all night,” Leach said of Knightdale. “They’re a great team.”
The win breaks Garner’s string of three straight Greater Neuse River 4A Conference championships.
“Both teams played very hard,” Senseney said. “It was a championship fight indeed.”