East Wake pounded away at visiting Southeast Raleigh with its 1-2 offensive punch of junior quarterback Tripp Harrington and senior running back Damontay Rhem in a 34-13 victory.
The Warriors landed the knockout blows in the second half Friday night at Johnny Sasser Stadium.
Harrington finished with two touchdown passes and one TD on the ground and Rhem ran for two scores as the Warriors pulled away from a 14-13 lead midway in the third quarter to post a victory in a battle for second place in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference.
East Wake improved to 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the league. Southeast Raleigh dropped to 3-4 and 2-1.
“Southeast really stepped up early and we weren’t able to get things started in the middle the way we wanted to,” East Wake coach John Poulnott said. “I guess pounding, pounding and pounding just wore them down. We finally got some holes in there.”
Harrington finished with 150 yards passing (12-for-17 with two interceptions) and ran for 119 yards. Rhem ground out 133 yards on 21 carries – the biggest run a 42-yard touchdown right up the middle that pushed the score to 34-13 with 4:45 remaining.
“We count on both of those guys, that’s the way our offense is designed,” Poulnott said of Harrington and Rhem. “A lot of teams want to try to take Damontay away so it gives our quarterback room to run.”
The final TD came a few minutes after a driving rain began, and the conditions made it impossible to Southeast to mount a comeback through the air.
“They are known for that back and quarterback and they rode them the entire game,” Southeast Raleigh coach Michael Thibodeau said. “A couple of little bounces, deflections didn’t go our way. The kids kept fighting. They know they can hang with these guys.”
The deflection that hurt the Bulldogs the most came just after they completed a long touchdown drive to pull within 14-13 with 6:00 minutes left in the third quarter. The extra-point attempt was missed to leave the score at 14-13.
East Wake took the ensuing kickoff and went 72 yards in just five plays. On first down from the Southeast 36, Harrington threw deep to Quincy Jackson, who had been crowned Homecoming King at halftime, and the ball was deflected by one of two Bulldogs defenders covering Jackson. The East Wake receiver grabbed the deflection in the end zone and Harrington had a 36-yard TD strike.
Rhem salted the victory away with a pair of scoring runs in the fourth quarter – a 4-yarder and the 42-yard burst in the final five minutes.
Southeast was led by senior running back Brandon Flint, who rushed for 87 yards on 19 carries and had a 6-yard scoring run.