East Wake rolled past Knightdale on Friday night, 35-21, for a sixth straight win.
The Warriors (9-2, 6-1) finished in second place in Greater Neuse River 4A conference and head into the playoffs next week.
Tripp Harrington accounted for every score in the first half – he had two throwing touchdowns, as well as two on the ground.
East Wake worked quickly, as the Warriors used only four plays to go 68 yards to score with less than two minutes coming off the clock to start the game. Harrington hit Quincy Jackson in stride down the sideline for a 45-yard score.
Harrington completed 23 of 32 pass attempts for 213 yards. He spread the ball, hitting seven different receivers.
The Knights of Knightdale (3-8, 1-6) ended the year on a four-game losing streak. Knightdale found themselves down by 21 before scoring its first points.
Trailing 21-0 with 1:42 left, Knightdale began with the ball at their own 49 yard line thanks to a late-hit penalty against the Warriors’ special teams unit. Two plays later, the Warriors’ defense was penalized for two late-hit penalties after Taurez Williams went out of bounds. After Williams’ 1-yard touchdown run, offsetting unsportsmanlike penalties were called on the two teams.
East Wake would respond after the penalties. With 1:05 left, the Warriors used a pass interference and an unsportsmanlike penalty to move near the red zone. The drive ended with a 2-yard touchdown reception from Harrington to Jackson to end the first half.
“We want all of our Warriors here next week. If things get out of hand, we could be eliminating our personnel,” said Warriors coach John Poulnott. “Knightdale’s going home; they’re done. Them getting up in our face isn’t a big deal because they don’t have a game next week. We don’t want to get baited. We want to play aggressive, but we don’t want to cross that line.”
The penalties continued to mount in the second half with several more unsportsmanlike penalties. Through it all, the Warriors continued to add pressure against the Knights on both sides of the ball.
With playoffs around the corner, the Warriors are playing well at the right time. It’s just a matter of whether they keep all their guys on the field, and their emotions in check.
“It’s been a long time since East Wake’s been on top of this battle,” Poulnott said. “We wanted to let them know who the top team is tonight. Unfortunately that can cross the line, and we wanted to pull (our guys) back a bit.”
Two Rivers 3A: With South Johnston, Corinth Holders and Cleveland all winning Friday, the Two Rivers 3A Conference championship ended up split three ways. All three teams went 4-1 in the league with losses to each other.
Per a new NCHSAA seeding procedure, there will be two No. 1 seeds from the conference with South Johnston to go into the smaller 3A bracket and Corinth Holders and Cleveland set to go into the larger 3AA bracket.
South gets a No. 1 league seed in 3A and Corinth Holders gets the No. 1 league seed in 3AA. Corinth Holders gets the No. 1 based on its head-to-head win over Cleveland, a No. 2 seed.
Staff writer Clay Best contributed to this report.