Fike is picking up momentum and picked up the Wilson County trophy in the process Friday night.
The Golden Demons took advantage of a Hunt turnover in the third quarter, scoring on a 29-yard touchdown strike to Brandon Atkinson from quarterback Jaelynn Melton. Fike’s defense did the rest in a 14-7 victory in a Big East 3A Conference matchup.
“They played outstanding,” Fike coach Tom Nelson said of his defense. “We gave up a couple of things. We bent a little bit but we didn’t break, and I thought we really made some big plays. I’m really proud of them.”
After giving up nearly 25 points per game, Fike (6-4, 2-2) was sitting at .500 overall and winless in the conference two weeks ago. The Demons’ defense has been much stingier the last two weeks, giving up only a touchdown in a 19-7 victory over Northern Nash last Friday and limiting Hunt to 207 yards.
And those two early conference losses? They were to Rocky Mount and Southern Nash, two of the top 10 teams in the state in 3A.
“We were just trying to catch our breath a little bit,” Nelson said. “It just rolled the wrong way for us a little bit. Finally, we were able to right the ship and tackle a little bit and things turned around for us.”
He continued: “It’s a testament to our kids. They just kept working.”
Hunt (3-7, 0-4) turned the ball over four times and committed 10 penalties in dropping its fourth consecutive game. But a team that had failed to score more than six points in each of its last three games got off to an encouraging start.
Midway through the first quarter, the Warriors’ Tae Davis got a drive started with a 32-yard run off left tackle. Four plays later, Hunt capped the march with a 14-yard touchdown pass to James Kent from quarterback Michael Ellis to take an early 7-0 lead.
“I felt like it was a big boost,” Hunt coach Keith Byrum said. “I felt like we were going out and put quite a bit more on the scoreboard. But on each drive, something went wrong and kept it from happening.”
Fike answered on the ensuing drive. Thanks in part to a personal-foul penalty helping the Golden Demons out of a third-and-21 situation, Fike embarked on a 15-play drive, wrapped by a five-yard blast up the middle for a touchdown by A.J. Jolly to knot the score at 7.
Hunt was whistled for two false start penalties in its next possession, and failed to take advantage of a personal foul penalty committed by the Demons. It was a pattern for the balance as either a penalty or turnover ended scoring chances.
“I thought we played tough, but we made mistakes when we shouldn’t, and didn’t capitalize on some things that had potential,” Byrum said.
The Demons failed to take advantage of two scoring opportunities in the latter part of the second quarter.
With 5:02 left in the second quarter, Walker Gliarmis successfully booted a 32-yard field goal through the uprights. But Hunt was offside on a 4th-and-6. Nelson elected to accept the penalty, but the decision backfired as Hunt defensive end Corey McCalston threw Melton for a five-yard loss.
After a shanked punt, Fike was stopped again. Noel Ruiz’s 48-yard field-goal attempt had plenty of distance, but was wide left..
A 7-7 first half featured 12 penalties for 100 yards, including seven infractions for 65 yards by the Golden Demons.
The win earned Fike the county trophy as it had already beaten Beddingfield earlier in the season.
“The kids all know each other,” Nelson said. “Any time you can beat both teams in the county, it’s good for the kids’ morale.”
Because of flooding that affected the region following Hurricane Matthew, both teams will wrap their regular-season schedules Thursday at home. Fike will host Nash Central, while Hunt will entertain Rocky Mount.