GARNER — Just call him Mr. Touchdown.
Junior running back Nyheim Hines rushed for 186 yards and five touchdowns, breaking the Garner season touchdown record along the way, to lead the Trojans to a 63-21 victory over Holly Springs on Friday night in the first round of the NCHSAA Class 4AA football playoffs.
Garner (9-3), the sixth seed in the East in the 4AA bracket, advanced to a second-round meeting at second-seeded Fayetteville Britt, which defeated Sanderson on Friday night.
Hines pushed his season rushing touchdown total to 43 and has eight touchdown receptions to give him 51 touchdowns – eclipsing the mark of 47 set by Anthony Barbour in 1987 when Barbour led the Trojans to a state championship. Barbour went on to star at N.C. State and is now on the coaching staff at Clayton High.
“It’s really a surreal feeling,” Hines said of the record. “Fifty-one is a lot. I can’t believe I ran for that many. I’m not trying to break records. But they are made to be broken. When we played (Clayton), he told me I would probably break it.
“It’s really the offensive line. They are Garner’s biggest offensive weapon. I just have to find the holes.”
Hines did that, particularly out of the “Wildcat” formation, when he takes a direct snap in the shotgun. The first two times he lined up in the formation, he scored touchdowns on the first play from scrimmage on the exact same play.
With the Trojans up 14-7 late in the first quarter and the ball at the Holly Springs 37 after the Golden Hawks had to punt from their 6, Hines took the snap, fake a handoff to Raekiwon Britton and bolted straight up the middle for a 37-yard TD with 51 seconds left in the quarter.
After Garner’s Aaron Smith intercepted a Holly Springs on the Hawks’ next possession, Garner had a first down at the Holly Springs 21. Hines again faked a handoff to Britton and took off up the middle, then cut toward the left sideline and into the open and dragged a defender the final 5 yards before lunging into the end zone.
It was a sequence that put the Trojans up 28-7 with three seconds left in the quarter and sent them off and running to the rout.
“I love the Wildcat,” Hines said. “You don’t have to wait for a handoff. It’s sort of instant. As a running back, you just try to move the chains every time. Eventually, you start to wear the defense down. As you wear them down, you start to break long runs.
“If you can get one in the first quarter, it’s pretty big.”
Hines topped the 100-yard mark in the first quarter and had 148 yards on 15 carries in the first half, an average of 10 yards per carry. He had four TDs at halftime when the Trojans led 42-14 and had just seven carries in the second half – his final carry of the game a 2-yard TD with 4:35 left in the third quarter.
Holly Springs (6-6), the 11th seed, drove down the field with the opening kickoff. But the Trojans’ defense stiffened after that and allowed only one more Hawks TD until a late score when Garner was up 63-14.
Garner recovered two fumbles and intercepted two passes.
“Those kids did a great job of preparing this week,” Garner coach Thurman Leach said. “The coaches made some good calls and the kids did a great job of executing what both staffs had planned.
“That was the big thing, was the execution. I was very pleased with our defensive effort out there.”
Hines had touchdown runs of 4, 37, 21, 25 and 2 yards to pass Barbour.
“Those two are very similar in that they are both very humble,” Leach said. “When I came (to Garner) in 1989, I was on the (coaching) staff with Anthony. He is one of the most humble people I know and Nyheim is a very humble young man. Nyheim is very thankful. Good things happen to good people.”
The Trojans simply chewed up Holly Springs on the grounds, rushing for 474 yards on 50 carries – an average of 9.5 yards per carry.
Britton had 94 yards on just three carries, including a 40-yard TD run. Reserve Jermaine Royster had a 50-yard TD run out of the Wildcat formation and finished with 83 yards. Jaykwon Harris also had a rushing touchdown.