The Knights nearly blew a 24-point lead as Harnett Central rallied in the fourth quarter.
But in the end Knightdale prevailed, 27-25, in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference opener for both teams Friday night.
After the Knights (4-1, 1-0) led 13-3 at the half and expanded that to 27-3 in the third quarter, the Trojans (1-4, 0-1) came alive with a 22-point fourth quarter to make the final two minutes interesting.
Since the visitors had spent their timeouts prior to the final possession of the game, Knightdale was able to make the few plays needed to exhaust the clock.
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Knightdale quarterback Andre Willis had 12 carries for 169 yards and went 8-for-18 for 121 yards through the air, having a part in three touchdowns in the win.
Harnett Central running back Zaheed Stubbs, who carried the weight during the comeback attempt, finished with 22 carries for 146 yards.
They said it
“These are high school kids. We got up 27-3 and they took their foot off the gas and let them come back into the game,” coach Cedric Dargan said of his Knights. “(Harnett Central) outworked us the second half – they played with great effort and we didn’t. It had nothing to do with conditioning or being tired, we just didn’t play with great effort in the second half. (Stubbs) is a heck of a back, he’s a downhill runner, and I can say all week I wasn’t worried about their spread stuff. I was worried about him in the Wildcat.”
Three who mattered
Tauraz Williams, Knightdale: He accounted for the Knights’ first two scores, rushing in from 9 yards out for the first and hauling in a 21-yard TD pass from Willis as the buzzer signaled halftime with the Knights ahead 13-3.
Andre Willis, Knightdale: Willis picked up where he and Williams left off before the break, dealing pain for the Trojans on scoring rushes of 24 and 58 yards in the third quarter.
Zaheed Stubbs, Harnett Central: Dargan’s comments about the Trojan sophomore sum it up. When Central needed a first down, they often didn’t have to wait until third down to get it thanks to the determined back. Stubbs ran in a 5-yard TD to start the fourth-quarter rally and added a 2-point conversion that put what was once an unlikely chance at a win within the Trojans’ reach with 1:53 left in the game.
By the numbers
2: Points scored by Knightdale’s DJ Conner on a conversion run in the third, the number of extra-point kicks Harnett Central blocked and the exact difference in the final score.
3: Times Knightdale capitalized on Trojan turnovers by scoring on their ensuing possession, including both of Willis’ rushing TDs and Tauraz Williams’ rushing TD.
4: Turnovers by Harnett Central: a fumble recovered by Corey Wiggins in the first quarter, an interception by Jhasire Morgan in the second, an INT by Conner in the third and a fumble recovered by Ahmaad Williams on the Trojans’ next possession.
7: The number of Knightdale players who combined for the team’s 289 total rushing yards.
58: Yardage of the longest play of the game, Willis’ breakaway down the left sideline that was the first play after Ahmaad Williams’ fumble recovery.
123: Combined penalty yards by the two teams.