The rains didn’t arrive at North Johnston High School Friday night until the second half of the Panthers’ non-conference football game with Wake Forest Heritage.
But the Panthers couldn’t avoid a deluge of mistakes and the storm surge that was the capitalizing Huskies who claimed their first win of the season in smashing fashion, 49-7.
Heritage (1-1) turned three North Johnston turnovers into touchdowns on the night, the first two helping create a quick 14-0 advantage.
Heritage pounced on a loose pigskin at North’s 16-yard line early in the game, setting up great field position. It only took two play for Abdul Sesay to ramble that distance, putting North in a 7-0 hole one minute into the contest and setting the tone for things to come.
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Sesay completed his night as the game’s top ground-gainer, picking up 85 yards in just nine carries with a second touchdown, that coming on a four-yard plunge to wrap up the first half scoring.
North’s mistakes continued on its second possession, snapping the ball past punter Trevor Edwards in the end zone, which Brandon Buchanon fell on for Heritage’s second tally, and a 14-0 lead with 3:13 left in the quarter.
Sesay ran for his second score of the night in the second quarter, which also saw the Huskies’ Josh Jenkins score on a 10-yard run.
Heritage’s Reco Jones took the kickoff to open the second half 90 yards for a touchdown, and North, on its opening possession of the third period, fumbled the ball away at its 4-yard line, which Jenkins converted into a score and a 42-0 Huskies lead 1:10 into the period.
Offensive woes continued for the Panthers of the Northern Carolina 2A Conference, who managed only 47 yards in total offense a week after a 49-3 loss to Cleveland.
“Mistakes,” said North coach Scott Meserve. “We missed a pair of tackles we should have made, the punter should have kicked the ball out of the end zone, and we kept stopping ourselves.
“We’re young, we only have four starters back on offense and defense, but we have to eliminate the mistakes.”
Mistakes kept the Panthers from moving the ball past midfield. The Panthers crossed into Heritage territory only twice in the contest, aided by 15-yard penalties on the Huskies.
The first occurrence came late in the first half, on a roughing the kicker penalty that took the ball to the Huskies’ 37, and a subsequent personal foul that moved the ball to the 29.
North moved to the 20 on a nine-yard run by DeAngelo Tyson, only to back up to the 26 on consecutive losses on running plays.
The Panthers elected to go for a score late in the first half, but couldn’t convert on fourth down against the Heritage defense.
North’s other foray into Huskies territory also came via a personal foul, only to see that drive snuffed by three consecutive plays thrown for losses.
North held the Huskies to 194 yards on the ground and 78 through the air, but the Huskies’ passing game set up Heritage’s third score, a 10-yard run by Jenkins.
North finally got on the board late in the fourth quarter when Heritage, which had moved to North’s 37-yard line, lost the ball on a hit and the Panthers’ Clay Johnson scooped up the ball and raced 55 yards for the score.
Tyson led the Panthers on the ground with 34 yards on ten carries, while Daniel Williams added 22 on 12 attempts.