Corinth Holders had never beaten Johnston county rival Clayton in their previous four meetings.
But new coach Bubba Williams’ club more than made up for it Friday night.
Howard Watson rushed for 174 yards and a touchdown while Kaelin O’Neal had 183 yards total offense and ran for three scores as the Pirates won 41-20.
Corinth Holders, a member of the Two Rivers 3A, improved to 2-0 with its second straight convincing win. Clayton, of the Greater Neuse River 4A, fell to 0-2 following its second straight tough loss to a county rival.
The Pirates had a pair of return touchdowns as well, a 63-yard punt return by Josiah Adams and a 20-yard pick-six from Ian Cregan.
“We have a great administration and a great community here,” said Williams, who spent the previous six seasons at Eastern Wayne. “Everything was in place before I got here. And the kids have done a great job adjusting to the change. We mentioned a couple of times this week that we had never beaten Clayton.”
Clayton scored all its points in the fourth quarter, with sophomore quarterback Landon Leiser passing for two touchdowns to Blake Joyner and running for another himself.
With 7:12 left in the second, the Pirates’ Josiah Adams returned a punt 63 yards for a score to make it 20-0.
They said it
“We were not playing defense well tonight,” said Clayton’s second-year coach Randy Pinkowski. “That’s the second week in a row we’ve given up over 40 points. We’ve got to start taking more responsibility on the defensive side of the ball.”
Three who mattered
Howard Watson, Corinth Holders: The senior rushed for 174 yards and a 69-yard first quarter TD.
“The offensive line was hitting hard,” Watson said. “Holes were opening up and we kept pushing through.”
Kaelin O’Neal, Corinth Holders: The senior quarterback finished with 183 yards total offense and ran for three TDs.
“Everybody came out ready to play,” O’Neal said. “Howard is a big-time runner and he came out and did his thing. And the whole offense and defense did what they needed to do.”
Landon Leiser, Clayton: The sophomore quarterback completed nine of 15 passes for 74 yards and two TDs and rushed for one himself, all in the fourth quarter.
“I was really nervous,” Leiser said. “I don’t know what I was thinking. My stomach was falling. But my teammates did a great job around me.”
By the numbers
41: Points scored by Corinth Holders before Clayton got on the board late in the third quarter, a missed extra point in the second period the only obstacle to a running clock.
85: Yards rushing on 22 carries from Clayton running back Courtlyn Victrim.
174: Yards from Corinth Holders running back Watson.
181: Yards total offense by Corinth Holders quarterback O’Neal, who rushed for three scores.
Corinth Holders plays at Wilson Hunt on Friday in the third of their six non-conference games to open the season. The Pirates’ Two Rivers opener is on Oct. 9 at Smithfield-Selma.
Clayton visits South Johnston on Friday in the third of four straight non-conference games against county rivals to start the campaign. The Comets host East Wake in their GNRC opener on Sept. 18.