By the time he got around to his second touchdown of the night, it seemed Larry Rountree III had certainly warmed up to varsity football.
In his Millbrook debut Friday, the junior running back’s scores gave the Wildcats two imperative leads against East Wake. The season-opener featured six lead changes before Millbrook (1-0) clung to a late edge and won, 34-32.
Rountree averaged more than 10 yards a carry in his first varsity game, finishing with 131 yards on 13 attempts.
“I was scared at the beginning,” he said, “but we worked hard in practice all week, so I’m just glad we got our first win.”
Scared? Rountree looked anything but in Week 1.
I was scared at the beginning, but we worked hard in practice all week, so I’m just glad we got our first win.
Millbrook RB Larry Rountree III
He got the first touch on Millbrook’s opening play. He busted up the middle, broke a tackle and gained 18 yards as part of a 55-yard scoring drive. Millbrook found the end zone twice on three first-half possessions before emphasizing its rushing attack after the break.
The Cats struck early to start the third but turned it over on downs, and East Wake (0-1) took advantage. Warriors senior quarterback Tripp Harrington found DeAndre Holmes for a 62-yard touchdown on the team’s first snap of the half, the longest scoring play of the game.
Millbrook responded behind Rountree and a mix of key passes from senior quarterback Reid Herring.
Herring, a three-year starter, was poised behind four returners from the offensive line to balance the young running back.
“Our offensive line is senior-laden,” Millbrook coach Clarence Inscore said. “We’ve got some big boys out there. We had some success running the ball in the first half; we had three possessions and scored twice. We knew we could run the ball, and we were running it effectively. We made a concentrated effort to run the ball – throw it some to keep ’em honest.”
Rountree toted the ball 30 yards for his first varsity touchdown, giving the Wildcats a slim 20-19 lead with 7:32 showing in the third quarter.
Harrington used an 11-yard touchdown run to put East Wake back on top.
Isaiah Bowman’s 74-yard kickoff return ultimately set up Rountree’s second touchdown.
Just 13 yards from the line, Rountree, again up the middle, broke free. Daring defenders were no contest for him, as the 5-foot-11 carrier flattened one of them on his way in.
“We just had to keep on not having doubts and just keep running the ball and keep on scoring,” Rountree said after the game.
Rountree comes up to help fill the hole left by Millbrook’s 2,000-yard running back Marcus Marshall. Marshall completed his senior season with 2,198 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns last year.
“I have a lot of people on my back now,” Rountree said. “I have to carry my team.”
Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan