Tripp Harrington took a while to get going, but East Wake’s double-threat quarterback got better and better as the game went on.
The senior completed 12 of 23 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns, adding 81 rushing yards on 16 carries as the Warriors blew past Clayton 44-14 in the Greater Neuse River 4A opener for both teams Friday night at Nixon-Fowler Stadium.
The win improved East Wake to 3-2 (1-0) on the season while the Comets fell to 1-4 (0-1).
Clayton, playing without injured senior slotback Blake Joyner, got a strong performance from sophomore quarterback Landen Leiser with 189 passing yards for two TDs.
Never miss a local story.
“We give up big plays on third down a lot, and that was reoccurring in the first quarter,” East coach John Poulnott said. “But we were able to finally find our niche.”
The Warriors led 26-7 at halftime.
Clayton fumbled into the East Wake end zone on its first possession, and then atoned on its second on a 53-yard pass from Leiser to Devin Carter.
But the rest of the half was all Warriors.
Mikekale Engles scored from two yards out on the final play of the quarter to help tie it at 7-7.
Harrington connected on a 33-yard touchdown pass to Chris Ajagbawa, followed by a safety and then Harrington’s second scoring pass to Ajagbawa from 3 yards out.
The teams traded touchdown passes in the third, but Kenjahliq Brown’s eight-yard scamper with 7:26 left sealed it for East at 37-14.
They said it
“Anytime you lose a big player like (Joyner) it’s tough,” said Clayton coach Randy Pinkowski. “We missed him in the special teams area. And they loaded the box on us and made it tough to run.”
Three who mattered
Tripp Harrington, East Wake: The senior passed for 170 yards and three TDs and added 81 yards on the ground.
“We had a few mishaps early, but we got it going,” Harrington said.
Landen Leiser, Clayton: The sophomore passed for 189 yards and two TDs.
“They seemed to catch onto what we were doing and stop it,” Leiser said. “It was a tough second half.”
Cardarius Hartsfield, East Wake: The senior carried six times for 77 yards.
By the numbers
90: Yards rushing by Clayton’s Courtlyn Victrim.
98: Yards rushing by East Wake’s backup QB Tyshawn Milam.
181: Yards passing by Clayton’s Leiser.
251: Yards total offense for East Wake’s Tripp Harrington.