East Wake’s 1-2 punch of Damontay Rhem and Tripp Harrington proved to be too much for West Johnston on Friday night.
Rhem rushed for 176 yards and two touchdowns and Harrington passed for 170 yards and two TDs – both to Tyler Burton – and ran for 50 more, leading the Warriors to a 28-14 victory over the Wildcats.
With the win, East Wake (6-2, 3-1 Greater Neuse River 4A) clinched its first winning season in since six years ago, when current West coach Jimmy Williams was at the helm. West fell to 5-3 and 2-2.
All 42 points were scored in a 13-minute span to end the first half.
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“This is really big for our program,” Warriors coach John Poulnott said. “We’ve probably clinched a playoff spot.
“That was our first goal. If we finish second in the conference (behind Garner), that’s not bad. We’ve got two guys who carry the ball and nobody can single out one person.”
West finished with 181 yards total offense, with 118 off a pair of touchdown passes from the arm of sophomore quarterback Andre Wilson.
“We’ve still got an excellent season going,” Williams said. “Our goals have not changed. We can still finish in the top three in this league, and we can still make the playoffs.
“East Wake is pretty good. They held their own against Garner and we didn’t. We made a lot of mistakes tonight, but we were still able to hang with them. I’m happy for East Wake because they were always good to me, but I’m a Wildcat now.”
The Warriors took a 7-0 lead with 49 seconds left in the first, as Rhem burst into the end zone from 12 yards out to complete an 11-play, 89-yard drive with Victor Romero adding the boot.
West took just 12 seconds to respond on Tyrone Jones’ 80-yard kickoff return with Christian Torres converting.
East Wake scored on its first play two possessions later, as Rhem escaped for an 80-yard scamper with Romero on the kick at 8:41 in the second.
“We stayed consistent,” Rhem said. “We were able to force them into lost yardage a lot of times. We’ve worked hard for my first winning season, and this is something special.”
The Warriors recovered the ensuing squib kick at the West 37, taking seven plays to make it 21-7 following a 27-yard toss from Harrington to Burton.
“Our offense was working real well in the first half,” Harrington said. “In the second we were kind of slow, but that’s something we can work on.
“We were able to control the ball in the second half when we needed to. We just have to stay focused and not let anything negative get in our minds.”
West halved the gap on a 46-yard pass from Wilson to Joshua Collier with 3:53 left in the half.
But East Wake scored on the half’s final snap on an 11-yard pass from Harrington to Burton with Romero adding the try.
Bulldogs convert turnovers into scores
Senior wide receiver JaQuell Taylor caught two touchdown passes to help Southeast Raleigh nip Knightdale 12-10 on Friday.
Southeast Raleigh converted two fumbles into short touchdown drives that Taylor finished with scoring catches of 5 yards in the third quarter and 11 yards with 3:07 left.
The Bulldogs improved to 4-4 overall and 3-1 in conference play, while the Knights dropped to 3-5 and 1-3.
Taylor’s game-winning catch was on a ball thrown high by quarterback Cameron Marshmon for the 6-foot-2, 180-pound junior to pull down over the defense. The score was three plays after junior safety Isaiah Martin recovered a fumble on a first-down pass completion at midfield and returned it 30 yards to Knightdale’s 12-yard line.
Knightdale reached midfield with one final drive, but Derrick Sloan, a 6-foot-2, 280-pound junior, broke through the offensive line for a 10-yard sack that killed the possession.
Southeast Raleigh trailed 10-0 at halftime, and the comeback began in the third quarter. Quion Harris recovered a fumble at Knightdale’s 14-yard line. Taylor scored on a fade to the left corner of the end zone on a pass from Dylan Parham.
The game opened with Knightdale jumping on its first opportunity when Southeast Raleigh attempted an onside kick that the Knights recovered at their 49-yard line.
The Knights drove 51 yards in eight plays with running back Taurez Williams scoring from one yard out. VLyle Walker’s extra point gave the Knights a 7-0 lead 3:55 into the contest.
Southeast Raleigh’s second fumble at the 50 on a punt return was recovered by the Knights’ Corey Wiggins.
The turnover gave the Knights the ball back at their 48-yard line. They drove to Southeast Raleigh’s 17-yard line before settling for a 34-yard field goal from Walker with 4.8 seconds remaining in the half.
Trojans ride early lead past Pirates
South Johnston (3-5 overall, 2-0 Two Rivers 3A), after getting off to a slow start in the first seven weeks, jumped out to a 13-point first-half lead on Corinth Holders Friday.
South rode that lead – and a smothering defense – to a comfortable, 26-7 win over the Pirates (5-3, 1-1).
Correspondent Tom Shanahan and staff writer Clay Best contributed.