Nothing is supposed to be easy in rivalry high school football games. West Johnston and South Johnston proved that again Friday night in a game that came down to the final snaps.
South, ranked eighth in The N&O area poll, held on fourth down inside of its own 10-yard line to preserve a 17-13 victory over West on Friday night.
The Trojans (2-0), up 17-13, appeared to have put the game away when Chandler Johnson intercepted a West pass near midfield with just over two minutes to play, but the Wildcats (1-1) recovered a bad snap on the next play to get the ball back at midfield.
“Both sides played so hard, trying to do sometimes too much at times, I think, because of the all-out effort the kids were giving,” said South Johnston coach Hunter Jenks. “I think we were both playing so hard that we didn’t execute like we have the potential to.
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“It was just so fitting that it came down to the end. I think we won on a play like that in 2010 (the hook and lateral) and it almost helped them win tonight. We’re so fortunate to get out of here with a win.”
West drove to the South 20 and got a pass interference penalty in the end zone to keep its drive alive in the final 40 seconds, but on fourth-and-3 at the 10, South forced a quick throw by Wildcats quarterback Andre Wilson that fell incomplete.
Down by 10 with less than five minutes to play, West closed to 17-13 when Wilson dropped a pass in the flat to Deandre Blevins that Blevins flipped to Jake Strickland who covered the final 24 yards for a West TD with 3 minutes, 35 seconds to play. The 2-point conversion attempt failed, but West forced the three-and-out that led to the possession that ended quickly with Johnson’s pick.
South Johnston held a 10-7 lead for most of the second half, finally adding to it on a 16-play drive that ended when Landon Lockamy hit Sharod Bailey on a 11-yard slant pass with 10:13 to play. Lockamy, who split time with Deparis Patterson at quarterback, was 12-of-14 for 90 yards on the night.
Yovani Herrera put the Trojans up 10-7 with a 43-yard field goal at the end of the first half.
South Johnston opened the game’s scoring when Kavante Johnson busted off a 35-yard run on the Trojans’ second possession of the night.
West countered with a Tony Mack-powered touchdown drive midway through the second quarter. Mack totaled 49 yards on the drive and scored from a yard out to get the Wildcats even at 7 after Cristian Torres’ extra-point kick.
Mack had 91 yards on 14 carries and Johnson went for 81 on 18 carries for South Johnston on a night that lacked big offensive performances.
Both teams were held to less than 300 yards of total offense.