Rumors were rampant before Garner’s game with East Wake that star Trojan running back Nyheim Hines might not play.
After Hines fainted during lunch at Garner, he wasn’t dressed for pre-game warmups. Imagine what he might have done if he were at 100 percent.
Hines rushed 35 times for 250 yards and three touchdowns and passed for a fourth, leading the Trojans to a 33-21 homecoming victory Friday night in the Greater Neuse River 4A opener for both teams.
Garner is 4-1 while East Wake – which had beaten the Trojans 54-40 last season in Wendell – is 3-2.
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“We went through some adversity this week with sickness and stuff,” Garner coach Thurman Leach said. “Nyheim got a little sick, but he’s fine. He wasn’t in pregame warmups because he didn’t get back from the doctor until about 6.
“We were praying for him, and he was fine by game time. He carried the ball a lot, and he did a great job on his touchdown pass. Coach (Adam) Hamrick did a great job drawing up that play.”
The Warriors got an outstanding effort from junior Tripp Harrington, who completed 17 of 31 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns while rushing 19 times for 67 yards.
“I think we’ve got a great defensive line,” East coach John Poulnott said. “But Nyheim is one of the great backs in the area, and he’s able to pop out for a big gain if you miss the first tackle.
“Tripp did a great job. We were battling and looking for what was going to open up for us. We just had some drops in the second half that stopped our momentum. This was not a make-or-break game, because there’s a lot of talent in our conference.”
Hines was already over 120 yards when Garner got its first points, as he plunged in from a yard out to end an eight-play, 53-yard drive. Noah Giroux added the kick at 7:33 of the second quarter.
Hines added another score from 13 yards out with 2:40 left in the half, completing an eight-play, 86-yard drive after the Warriors ran out of downs at the Garner 14.
“I’m fine,” Hines said. “Nothing much happened. We just remembered they beat us last year and that left a bitter taste in our mouths.
“And it’s homecoming week. We haven’t lost homecoming since 1985, and the guys who blocked for me before and helped me become the player I am now were all in the stands.”
Juwan Manley set up the Trojans’ third touchdown with a 57-yard interception return to the East Wake 33. Two plays later after a holding penalty, Brodie West connected with Michael Gilchrist on a 52-yard scoring strike. It was a hook-and-ladder play in which Justin Gahrmann caught the original pass at the Warrior 40 and flipped the ball to Gilchrist who scored with 12 seconds left in the half to make it 19-0.
“I just ran as fast as I could down the sidelines,” Manley said of the interception. “Their offense was a challenge, and their quarterback did a good job.”
West said the hook-and-ladder was a lot of fun.
“We put that in this week,” he explained. “Justin did a great job on that play and was really clutch for us.
“Nyheim didn’t really surprise me. He’s just a great athlete, and he proved it again tonight.”
The Warriors struck back on a six-yard run from Damontay Rhem with 4:23 left in the third. The score came five plays after Jake Ellington blocked a Trojan punt and East recovered at the Garner 27.