For one half of football, West Johnston had all it could handle from No. 6 seeded Pine Forest in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs but the Wildcats’ special teams and defense provided the spark that ended with a 28-0 victory, the program’s second home playoff victory in school history.
The Wildcats moved the ball with some success in the first half behind the strong running of Tony Mack. The senior standout had 126 yards rushing by halftime but West Johnston (10-1) had a tough time closing the deal to finish off drives.
Twice, the Wildcats moved inside the Trojans 20-yard line in the opening half but came up short.
The breakthrough came for the Wildcats in the final minute of the first half when Zack Lassiter got his hands on a Caleb Ryan punt and Alex Brewington scooped up the ball at the 29-yard line and raced to the end zone to break the scoreless contest.
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The West Johnston defense did its job all night in posting its fourth shutout on the season. The Wildcats forced eight Pine Forest punts but, even more importantly, four turnovers.
Mack turned two off those takeaways into points on a pair of third quarter touchdown runs to stretch the lead to 21-0. Mack ended the night with 191 yards on the ground.
Timare Robinson capped off the scoring with a 38-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Pine Forest was held to 37 yards on the ground on 29 carries.
The No. 3 seeded Wildcats will travel to take on Mid-South Conference champions Cape Fear next week in the second round.