Garner junior running back Nyheim Hines has been an offensive machine for the Trojans this season, rushing for 2,202 yards and 34 touchdowns going into Friday night’s game at Southeast Raleigh played in a steady rain.
Turns out Hines is a pretty good mudder, too.
Hines, a 5-foot-9, 175-pounder, rushed for 234 yards and four touchdowns and threw for a fifth score as the Trojans rolled to a 49-14 victory over the Bulldogs in Garner’s final regular-season game.
“We played well tonight under these conditions,” Garner coach Thurman Leach said. “In these conditions, it’s sweep right, sweep left.
“As long as the offensive line is rolling and they are opening up the holes for (Hines), he’s going to do some things. He’s a fantastic young man.”
With the rain coming down steadily at the beginning of the game and continuing at a lighter pace, the Trojans (8-3, 4-2 Greater Neuse River 4A) stayed on the ground. And that meant Hines, who had 14 of the Trojans’ 18 first-half rushes and ground out 174 yards in the opening 24 minutes.
Hines managed to break off some long gainers on the sloppy night, with runs of 27, 39, 46 and 38 on his spreadsheet. He carried the ball only four times in the second half before the reserves took over with the game in hand.
“We had great blocking,” Hines said. “I just had to break one tackle and take it to the house. I need to thank my line for that. They are the biggest weapon in Garner right now.”
Hines and the Trojans set the tone early, driving 72 yards in just five plays with the opening kickoff to take a 7-0 lead. Hines went 27 yards on the Trojans’ first play from scrimmage and added a 39-yarder later in the drive. He scored from the 4. Then, after a roughing-the-kicker penalty on the point-after, he ran in for the 2-point conversion.
The next time the Trojans got the ball, Hines went 46 yards for a TD on the first play. Just like that it was 15-0 with 8:22 left in the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, the Trojans ran a series with Hines taking a direct snap in their version of the “Wildcat” formation. Facing a second-and-25 after a 15-yard penalty, Hines passed over the middle to a wide-open Terry Whitehead for a 29-yard TD.
“I was worried about getting hit on the play,” Hines said. “I saw somebody coming out of the corner of my eye so I just let it go. He was open and caught it.”
Hines added another rushing touchdown with 33.8 seconds left in the half, sweeping in from the left side from 13 yards out to give the Trojans a 28-7 lead.
After Garner forced a punt on Southeast’s opening possession of the second half, Hines went 38 yards on first down to push the lead to 35-7.
Southeast (4-5, 2-3) got a 5-yard TD run from Aschod Meeks in the first half and a late 7-yard TD run from quarterback Darris Bridgers. But the Bulldogs had trouble generating much offense against Garner’s young defense.
“The defense is growing up,” Leach said. “This is a good way to go into the playoffs. It is going to be interesting to see. In the East, anybody can beat anybody. It’s going to be whoever shows up.”