Holly Springs won its first game for new coach Wayne Bragg and spoiled the season-opener for Wakefield in the process.
The Golden Hawks won 39-14 Friday night thanks to a steady ground game. Holly Springs running backs Nehemiah Harris and Tray Staten each went over the 100-yard mark.
Harris had 25 carries for 120 yards and a touchdown while Staten had 15 for 116 and two touchdowns. Quarterback Justin Armwood and reserve running back Jason Missouri – all 5-foot-2 of him – also scored rushing touchdowns.
“After week one (a 13-7 loss to Heritage) we fixed a lot,” Staten said. “Our offensive line, they did a lot of improvement throughout the week. You could tell their minds had changed and they were focused all week.”
Meanwhile, Wakefield (0-1) struggled in the passing game. Converted receiver Marius Cooper was 13-of-33 in his debut as quarterback for 170 yards and a score. Holly Springs’ Eddie Okeiga added an interception.
Yet despite the Hawks’ ground game and Wakefield’s struggles, the game was tied late in the third quarter after a Cooper pass to Dontel Dunston. Dunston made a high-rising snag for a 26-yard touchdown grab with 6 minutes, 32 seconds left in the period.
Cooper ran in a two-point conversion, but it was all Holly Springs from there.
The Hawks had 14 points in the fourth quarter to score the game’s final 25 points.
“You saw at the end, they just kind of took over. We just couldn’t close the deal. We had a difficult time moving the football,” Wakefield coach Rod Sink said.
Holly Springs and Wakefield entered halftime with the Hawks up 14-6, after Holly Springs missed a field goal before half. Just a few plays earlier, Wakefield’s Ronnie Procopio, who also had an interception, ran down Harris inside the 5-yard line to prevent the touchdown.
It was one of two critical plays that kept it close early.
The Wolverines Kelton Whitehead’s 9-yard touchdown run capped off a drive that nearly didn’t happen. Holly Springs dove after a kickoff that Wakefield hadn’t yet fielded, then fell on it in the end zone for what appeared to be its second touchdown in as many seconds.
But the rule in high school states that any ball that lands in the end zone before a team gathers possession is a touchback. It was nearly 21-0, but the Hawks made sure to get those points back later on.
“If he gets the ball at the 1, we’ve got the ball at the 1,” Bragg said. “I felt like we left some points on the board in the first half. But I think we did a great job of coming out in the second half.”
Holly Springs took a 14-0 lead with 5 minutes, 39 seconds till halftime on an Armwood 13-yard run and A.J. O’Neal two-point conversion on a fake extra point. Earlier in the quarter, Staten broke up a scoreless game in the second with a 9-yard touchdown run.