RALEIGH — – A steady rain picked up in intensity during warmups 20 minutes before kickoff and the Fuquay-Varina players responded by cheering and slapping their thigh pads into a thunderous drumbeat.
The Bengals knew rain favored their run-oriented offense and they featured a thoroughbred mudder, Damarus Williams. The senior plowed ahead 35 times for 190 yards and one touchdown to lead the Bengals (6-4, 3-3) to a 24-13 victory over the Jaguars (4-6, 2-4) in a Southwest Wake 4A game.
Williams, a 5-foot-10, 190-pounder, is listed as a running back, but make no mistake of his role on this night. He ran like a fullback, carrying 16 times for 84 yards in the first half and 19 times for 106 yards in the second half.
“The coaches told me before the game I had to step it up and hold on to the ball,” Williams said. “I loved it.”
On Fuquay’s first possession, Williams carried seven times on an eight-play drive that finished with a 30-yard field goal by William Mann for a 3-0 lead. In the fourth quarter, the Bengals ran out the clock when he carried seven straight times 45 yards.
The Bengals only threw one pass, but it was good for a touchdown. Tyler McBride caught the ball at the Athens Drive 40-yard line on the hashmark and cut diagonally to the right side untouched to complete a 79-yard catch-and-run touchdown pass from Caleb Mundy.
McBride nearly slipped when he came down with the reception, but he defenders slipped more than him to provide his avenue to the end zone.
“I ran as fast as I could,” he said.
Eric Sugarman scored the Bengals’ other TD on a 7-yard pass.
In the sloppy conditions that saw both teams fumble center exchanges and handoffs, Fuquay’s unsung hero was long-snapper Thomas Kirby. He was flawless snapping on the field goal for a 3-0 lead, on three PATS and four punts.
“It was really wet and we had to get our snaps down,” said Kirby, listed as a 6-1, 155-pound quarterback/defensive back. “When those big guys are lining up over you, it’s a lot of pressure. I just had to block everything out and do what I had to do.’”
Athens Drive was led by running back Dominique Lynch. He carried 19 times for 195 yards and a 12-yard touchdown run that gave the Jaguars’ a 7-3 lead in the second quarter. He also cut three balls for 27 yards, including a 17-yarder in the third period that trimmed Fuquay’s lead to 17-13.