Wakefield’s defense shined in its moment of redemption.
Visiting Southern Durham had broken away from tackles throughout the game, forcing Wakefield to fight from behind all night.
But the Wolverines’ defense stood tall late to clinch a 27-26 victory Friday night.
They only allowed two possessions in the final quarter – one ended with a punt and the other a turnover on downs.
Down one point in the final minutes, the Spartans (2-2) advanced inside the Wakefield red zone with 3 minutes, 3 seconds remaining. They were set up at the 16 when defenders stopped senior running back Jordon Brown, who finished with 28 carries for 166 yards. The North Carolina recruit had broken free from en route to a 47-yard touchdown to open the second half, giving the Spartans a lead.
So, with the game on the line, there was no doubt the ball would be in his hands.
After a 12-yard burst that put Southern deep in Wakefield territory, the Wolverines knocked the powerful rusher 2 yards back.
Three plays later, the Wolverines forced Southern into a turnover on downs with 1:13 left to seal the win.
After a scoreless first quarter, Wakefield (2-1) took a 17-12 lead into halftime behind quarterback Matt McKay. As the seconds ran off the clock, he found Marius Cooper for a 49-yard touchdown. They linked a second time for 42 yards, which ultimately led to a 23-yard field goal by Michael Tilley.
McKay punched it in from 4 yards away to claim the final margin, and he completed 15 of 29 passes for 216 yards.
McKay’s 4-yard score. Until that point, whenever the Wolverines had a lead or moved the ball, something stole the momentum away. So there was no denying the value and timeliness of McKay’s rushing touchdown.
Three who mattered
Matt McKay, Wakefield: He wasn’t afraid to run, to throw and to give his team the best chance to score.
Hunter Stephenson, Wakefield: He had a string of good punts. In the first half, a dropped ball forced him to scramble but he was still able to boot it away.
Jordon Brown, Southern: He rushed for 91 yards in the third quarter alone and was Southern’s offensive anchor.
By the numbers
5: Wakefield first downs on its final scoring drive in the fourth quarter
16: Yard line on which Marquez Young’s fumble recovery set up the Wolverines in the first half
6: Times McKay and Cooper connected for passes
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan