Entering its Two Rivers 3A Conference football tilt against Western Harnett, having already lost five games by single digits this season, the Corinth Holders used a simple approach to clip Western Harnett 48-7 at home Friday night: run the ball.
The Pirates ran for 424 yards on 47 carries for the game in order to overcome an early deficit and topple the Eagles to move to 2-1 in the conference and 2-7 overall.
Corinth Holders’ dangerous trio of runners – Mike Darden, Jimmy Ferrell and Johnavan Neal – each eclipsed the century mark on the ground combining for 425 yards.
The Pirates fell behind early when Tyshawn Elliott picked up a fumble on the first offensive play for Corinth Holders and raced 20 yards to the end zone to give Western Harnett (2-7, 1-2) the 7-0 lead.
Thanks to the offensive line and dominating defensive performance, it was all Pirates from that point forward.
Ferrell rushed for two scores in the opening quarter and Neal added one to go up 14 points by the end of the period, and the running game ran on all cylinders the rest of the night.
“The five guys up front have done an excellent job, especially tonight,” Corinth Holders coach Bubba Williams said of the offensive line. “Our quarterback did a good job at making good reads, but it all started with the five guys up front.”
The Pirates capped off an eight-play, 72-yard drive with a key Mike Darden 1-yard plunge with just over one second left in the second quarter to build a 20-point lead at the half, breaking the game wide open.
THEY SAID IT
On being 2-1 in the conference, but needing to add more wins to get in playoff contention, Williams knows next week’s game against South Johnston is a big one.
“We’ve got to play for our lives next week for us to have any shot to continue any run (to the playoffs), Williams said.
THREE TO KNOW
Mike Darden, Corinth Holders: Darden was held to just six yards on his first four carries but got going in the second quarter gashing the Eagles defense for big gains. The junior ended the game with 173 yards on the ground on 19 attempts.
Johnavan Neal, Corinth Holders: The senior quarterback displayed his speed all night and, when he found open space, it was an unstoppable combination for which Western Harnett had no answer. Neal ran for 129 yards and a touchdown and also intercepted a pass on defense.
Jimmy Ferrell, Corinth Holders: The Pirates quick wide receiver scored a touchdown the first time he touched the ball on an end around and ended the night with 123 yards on the ground and three rushing scores.
By the Numbers
149: Yards rushing for Corinth Holders in the first quarter.
126: Western Harnett rushing yards for the game (on 39 carries).
25: Yards rushing for Western Harnett’s leading rusher on the night, Gary Mullins.
12: Rushing touchdowns on the season for the Pirates’ Mike Darden.
3: Corinth Holders third quarter possessions that began in enemy territory.