Up by one late in the fourth quarter, East Wake was stopped at the one-yard line on a fourth-and-goal try, giving visiting Millbrook the ball back with 99 yards to go with just under two minutes to play on Friday.
Warriors coach John Poulnott had been on the wrong side of close games against the Wildcats in the past, with East Wake having lost matchups between the two teams by a combined seven points the past two seasons.
“We’ve played Millbrook tight every year that I’ve been here. ... (I was thinking) ‘Here we go again,’ ” Poulnott said. “In the past, when they hit the 30-yard line, I knew they could line up and kick a 50-yard field goal and put us away. This year, not having (former Millbrook kicker Jarrett Cervi, now at Old Dominion), I was a little bit more comfortable, but you’ve got a Division I quarterback (Millbrook junior Reid Herring) and you’ve got a Division I running back (senior Marcus Marshall) in the backfield just waiting for one of those guys to make a play and one of our guys stepped up and sealed the deal.”
Millbrook reached midfield with 45.6 seconds to play, and Herring completed an 11-yard pass to tight end A.J. Rogerson to put the Wildcats in East Wake territory. But on the next play, East Wake senior Greg Taylor snagged Herring’s shot down field, allowing the Warriors to run out the clock and walk away with a 7-6 win.
The Warriors, without the area’s leading receiver, Quincy Jackson, who sat out with a fractured thumb, relied heavily on senior running back Damontay Rhem.
Rhem’s 16-yard run midway through the second quarter put the Warriors in the red zone, and quarterback Tripp Harrington (14 of 20, 100 yards passing) found DeAndre Holmes on a 3-yard pass for what would be the game-winning score. Rhem finished with 21 carries for 122 yards. Tyler Burton led the Warriors with 43 yards on four catches.
East Wake (2-1) was able to hold onto a slim lead a week after giving up three second-half touchdowns at Wake Forest, but the Wildcats didn’t help themselves. Millbrook was whistled for 12 penalties, including back-to-back false start calls twice in the second half.
“We shot ourselves in the foot a lot. ... Every chance we got and everything we got going, we got a penalty and they capitalized on it. That’s what good teams do and they did a great job doing that,” Millbrook coach Clarence Inscore said. “When you go from a first and 10 to a first and 20, first and 25, or second and 25, it’s hard to overcome that, and we’ve got to stop doing those kinds of things to put ourselves in a better situation. We’re a good offensive team, but we didn’t show that tonight.”
The Wildcats (2-1), having cruised to their first two wins of the season, found themselves trailing at halftime for the first time this season. Millbrook scored on its first possession of the game, driving 45 yards in 21 seconds to score on a 1-yard Donovan Darity run, but the Wildcats’ extra point attempt sailed wide.
That score was set up by a 41-yard Marshall catch on the first snap of the series, which would stand as the senior’s largest gain of the night as the Warriors defense held him to 45 yards on 14 carries and 58 yards on four receptions.
Herring finished 9 of 18 for 117 yards and one interception.
Heritage 38, Knightdale 0
The only thing that could stop the Heritage Huskies en route to a 38-0 win over visiting Knightdale was a 53-minute lightning delay Friday night.
The Huskies were up 31-0 when lightning in the distance provided the special effects for the Heritage band’s halftime performance.
When play resumed to start the third quarter, fortunes didn’t change much for Knightdale. The Knights were held to a three-and-out and then Bod Davis returned the ensuing punt 56 yards for a touchdown. Davis twisted and turned to break several tackles before shooting down the far sideline and crossing over to the near sideline to outrace the final tackler for the score. Davis’ return gave the Huskies their final score and the defense did the rest.
Heritage posted its second straight shutout, following a 39-0 win over Rolesville the week before. The Heritage defense has allowed only one touchdown (against Holly Springs) in its first three games as the Huskies moved to 3-0 to open the season.
Prior to the delay, Heritage was able to move the ball effectively against Knightdale. The team got touchdowns on its first four possessions. Isaac Burton had a 1-yard touchdown run in each of the first two quarters.
Heritage quarterback Blake Walters passed for one touchdown and ran for another in the first half.
Walters hit Charles Johnson for a 15-yard score midway through the second quarter to push the lead to 28-0.
Logan Krause kicked a 20-yard field goal with one second left to cap the first-half scoring.
Knightdale couldn’t get going offensively in the first half, running only 12 plays and netting -1 yards. Heritage forced three turnovers, one of which led to a touchdown.
The Knights (1-2) graduated a lot of starters last season and are fielding a squad gaining first-time playing experience.
Corinth Holders 44, North Johnston 14
Corinth Holders may have found the running back it has been looking for. Led by Howard Watson, the Pirates scored on seven consecutive possessions in picking up their first win of the year, a 44-14 rout of North Johnston.
The Pirates were stopped just once in raising their record to 1-2, that coming on the opening possession.
After stopping the Panthers (0-3) on North Johnston’s opening possession, the Pirates began handing the ball to Watson. He responded with 172 yards on 17 carries and three touchdowns. Two of those touchdowns came in the first quarter on runs of 53 and 22 yards, lifting the Pirates to a 13-0 lead.
Watson added a 9-yard scoring run in the third quarter, side-stepping along the sideline past three defenders over the final five yards.
“We’ve been looking to see who was going to step out from our group of running backs,” said Pirates coach Barry Honeycutt. “Howard did a super job for us and our offensive line did a super job of blocking for him.”
The Pirates benefited from North Johnston’s decision to forego a punting game, twice taking possession inside the Panthers’ 20-yard-line.
Watson was complimented by Mike Searles, who gained 39 yards on seven carries including a 12-yard run for a score.
North Johnston’s scores came in the fourth quarter. The first was a 9-yard touchdown pass from Dallas Krob to Benjamin Jaramillo. The Panthers wrapped up the scoring on Jonathan Gonzalez’s 3-yard run.
Corinth Holders had little need for the passing game but Cole Sakowski managed one touchdown pass, a 34-yarder to Steven Adams. The touchdown strike was Sakowski’s only completion of the night.
The Pirates finished with 315 yards rushing.
Panther Creek 41, Rolesville 16
Rolesville scored first in the school’s first home varsity football game since 1961 – the last season for the previously named school. DeMichael Johnson’s 27-yard field goal on the Rams’ opening drive, though, was surpassed by three Panther Creek quarterbacks passing for four touchdowns in the Catamounts’ 41-16 win.
Dom Samson’s 65-yard touchdown pass to Toney Bass earned Panther Creek (1-1) the lead for good with 9:38 remaining in the first quarter. Brenden Magner connected with Justin Smalls for 30 yards in the final 30 seconds of the first half for the first of Magner’s two touchdown strikes that led to a 20-10 halftime score – and commenced an hour-long lightning delay.
Magner added a 1-yard scamper for six more points with 8:14 to go in the third quarter, and Ivoree Atkinson covered 63 yards for six more and a 34-10 Catamounts advantage entering the final stanza.
Panther Creek saved its longest play for last, when Jordan Cain’s pass reached Diamante Taylor in stride on the way to a 99-yard touchdown reception with 4:38 remaining. Catamounts kicker Phillip Stone booted a pair of first-quarter field goals (21 and 40 yards) along with three extra points.
The new Rolesville team (0-3) tallied its first home varsity football touchdown 2 minutes, 38 seconds before halftime. Rams quarterback Carnaji Andrews fired a completion to E.J. Hicks – on a slant pattern from the left side – before Hicks battled his way for the last 15 yards that put him in the end zone.
Correspondents Alex Bass, Keith Cramer and Jay Mumford contributed.