West Johnston got off to the conference start it was looking for with a 30-14 win over Knightdale on Friday, giving head coach Jimmy Williams his 100th career win at the same time.
But the game didn’t play out in ideal fashion for the Wildcats, who improved to 4-1 overall.
Knightdale’s Joshua Schenck recovered a fumble on West’s first possession of the second quarter and the Knights took three minutes to score on a 15-yard run by Khaaliq Lewis. Vlyle Walker (2-for-2) kicked in the extra point to pull Knightdale within 21-14 with five minutes left in the half.
“We put the ball on the ground in the red zone and things kind of got flipped around, but we just kept grinding,” Williams said.
West kicker Cristian Torres sealed the win with his 31-yard field goal with 2:23 to play, but it was a Knights fumble the Wildcats turned into a touchdown with a minute left in the first half that provided the decisive cushion.
That score came on a 18-yard pass from Cameron Williams to Josh Collier. The Knights blocked the extra point and kept the deficit at 27-14 until Torres’ kick.
“It was very big,” West coach Jimmy Williams said of the plays that gave his team a two-possession lead entering the half. “We didn’t do as much as we wanted in the second half, offensively. We’ve talked about what we needed to do and we didn’t execute well in the second half, and I credit Knightdale for that. They made some adjustments and played harder, but that turnover helped to get us where we had enough to win the game.”
Cameron Williams finished 11-for-19 for 137 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown pass to Tyrone Jones to open the scoring two minutes into the game. Williams also rushed for 73 yards on 11 carries, complimenting Wildcats back Tony Mack, who ran for 78 yards on 12 touches.
West doubled its score two minutes later on a 3-yard rumble by Tre Frederick and extra point by Torres, who aside from the blocked kick was perfect on the night.
The Knights (2-3) got their other score on a 43-yard breakaway by Malik Branch with 3:11 remaining in the opening period, only to see the Wildcats answer four plays later at the 1:58 mark on a 19-yard option to Frederick.
Branch led Knightdale with 109 yards rushing on 12 touches.
“I felt early on we were in control,” Jimmy Williams said. “I knew (Knightdale) wasn’t going to quit and go away, but I felt our offensive game plan worked pretty good.”