East Wake was looking for its second straight win over a ranked opponent. It stuck to a simple strategy to make it happen: let key players make key plays.
The Warriors, No. 11 in the News & Observer’s area rankings, held off visiting No. 13 Heritage 34-29 Friday largely thanks to star running back Damontay Rhem and quarterback Tripp Harrington.
Rhem ran for 226-yards and two touchdowns. Harrington threw for three touchdowns and 161 yards during a 12-for-19 performance.
Trailing by five with 1 minute, 35 seconds to play, the Huskies (3-1) failed for an onside kick. Rhem then sealed the game for the Warriors (3-1) with runs of 16 and 18 yards.
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“(Rhem) was a horse,” East Wake coach John Poulnott said. “(Heritage) pressured us well all night, so we decided to delay and run. We ran some traps and some (isolations) and got him free a couple times.”
The win avenged last year’s 41-35 loss at Heritage. The Huskies had allowed an average of 2.3 points per game prior to Friday.
“The big thing about this win is us getting that monkey off our backs,” Poulnott said. “The last two or three years we’d get a big win and then take a slide. It was good for us to finally come off a win and be able to pick another one on a ranked opponent.”
East Wake scored first near the end of the opening quarter on a 12-yard pass from Harrington to Chris Ajagbawa.
A pair of five-yard penalties moved the Huskies backward in the red zone on their drive at the start of the second quarter. The drive died on a turnover on downs and East Wake was quick to take advantage with Harrington’s 8-yard toss to Tyler Burton for a 14-0 cushion.
Heritage quarterback Blake Walters got his team on the board with a 1-yard keeper with 3:16 left in the half, but the extra point sailed wide, leaving the score at 14-6.
Walters opened the third quarter with six straight completions and found the end zone on a 26-yard strike to John McCaffity. Isaac Burton’s two-point conversion tied the game.
After the kickoff, East Wake responded four plays later with a 40-yard throw from Harrington to Greg Taylor. Luis Chavez followed with the extra point. But Heritage came back with a 16-yard toss from Walters to Gershom Ejoni on the fifth play of the ensuing drive, and took the lead with a two-point conversion taken in by Walters for the 22-21 edge.
A sack forced Heritage to punt from its own 2 yard line near the end of the third quarter. The punt left East Wake with the ball on the Heritage 27, and Rhem needed just one touch to regain the lead for the Warriors, 28-22.
On the following drive, a 15-yard defensive pass interference call against the Warriors put the Huskies on the East Wake 36, but the Warriors denied a fourth-and-short try to regain possession. On the next play, however, Heritage recovered a fumble to take over on the East Wake 30.
Again, the Warriors forced a fourth down, and survived on a long pass by Walters.
Heritage’s final hope at rallying was set up by a 1-yard passing score from Walters to Jeff Gemmell in the final two minutes.
Corinth Holders unleashes offense: Visiting Corinth Holders’ high-powered offense never relented in a 61-27 decision over Bunn.
The Pirates racked up 502 total yards while improving to 2-2 on the season.
Bunn is also 2-2 after allowing the most points in a contest since a playoff loss to Reidsville in 2009.
Corinth Holders found the end zone on its first play from scrimmage as veteran quarterback Cole Sakowski found Dymon Walker on a bubble screen that turned into an 81-yard touchdown just 21 seconds into the game.
After Bunn fumbled on its opening snap, the Pirates needed just one play to score again – on a quick screen from Sakowski to Tony Kirkwood.
Trailing 14-0 after just 44 seconds had elapsed, Bunn also scored on a single play as T.J. Jones took a handoff and sped away 64 yards for a touchdown to cap off the busy offensive minute.
Following a missed PAT the Wildcats were back within 14-6, but five plays later Corinth Holders scored again on a 13-yard run up the middle from Howard Watson.
Jackson Creech converted his third straight extra point, and the Pirates were in charge at 21-6 with 8:35 remaining in the opening quarter.
Sakowski and Walker hooked up again with 37 seconds left in first period on a 46-yard touchdown pass that saw Walker break three tackles after taking the quick slant.
Corinth Holders added two more scores in the first half including one off a fumble recovery of a high punt snap and the other on Sakowski’s fourth TD pass of the half (13 yards to Kirkwood).
Tevin Perry tried to keep Bunn close with a pair of touchdown runs, but the Wildcats went into the halftime intermission stunned and trailing at 42-21.
Sakowski, a senior, completed 12 of 24 passes for 244 yards. Watson piled up 199 yards on 24 carries.
Knights get back on track: Knightdale (2-2) rebounded from two straight losses to hand the Eagles (2-1) their first loss of the season, 31-13, and put an end to Enloe’s best start in years.
Cougars continue to roll: Unbeaten Wake Forest climbed to 4-0 with an offensive onslaught in a 61-20 triumph over Rolesville, which is playing its first varsity season. The Cougars are ranked No. 2 in the N&O rankings. They have outscored their opposition the last two weeks 109-20.
Correspondent Geoff Neville contributed.