Millbrook wasn’t just responding to last year’s one-point loss at East Wake.
The Wildcats were responding to the Warriors’ elusive quarterback, who gave them fit after fit Friday night: Tripp Harrington, the dual-threat senior who scrambled his way out of pressure and threatened their season opener down to the final quarter.
Millbrook emphasized the rushing attack in the second half of it’s 34-32 season-opening victory to prove the Cats can answer the call.
“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.”
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Junior back Larry Rountree, debuting in his first varsity football game, led Millbrook’s rushing efforts.
He finished with 131 rushing yards on 13 carries (10.1 yards a carry) and scored twice to help get the Cats (1-0) out of a jam. There were seven lead changes, including four in the third quarter.
Harrington and the Warriors struck quickly after the break. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound quarterback located DeAndre Holmes for a 62-yard score. It was one of three touchdown passes from Harrington, who also ran in a pair for East Wake (0-1). He wrapped up with 16-for-26 with 266 yards.
Millbrook responded to the 62-yarder with two touchdowns on back-to-back possessions – both from Rountree.
The 5-11, 196-pound rusher broke free for 30 yards and next bulldozed 13-yards over the Warriors for the second, giving the Wildcats a 28-25 lead at the end of the third quarter.
“We worked hard in practice all week” Roudtree said, “so I’m glad we got our first win.”
Millbrook quarterback Reid Herring (10-for-13,163 yards) ran in a 5-yard punch to start the final quarter, the third-year starter giving his team some breathing room with the largest lead of the night at 34-25.
The Cats clung to the lead, even after a pass interference call led to East Wake’s final touchdown.
Harrington pursued a fourth-and-six, attempting to pass the ball downfield when Millbrook was whistled for the penalty.
The Warriors drove 47 yards to score after the miscue.
Millbrook maintained it’s slim lead and possession.
“Was it pass interference, yeah it was,” Inscore said. “That’s one of those effort plays you can’t really fault. The mental mistakes are what we have to clean up: the offsides penalties, the illegal procedures, the holding.”
Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan