Southern Nash and Rocky Mount entered Thursday nights contest undefeated on the season and the rivals from the east gave the fans in Bailey quite the show on a chilly night.
In the end the Firebirds made more plays, and remained perfect with a 35-21 win over the Gryphons.
Southern Nash (7-0, 3-0) jumped out to a 14-0 lead over Rocky Mount (7-1, 3-1) and early on made it look like this one wouldn’t be much of a contest. However, the Gryphons tied the game at 21 before the Firebirds scored 14 unanswered to secure the victory.
“This was very big,” Southern Nash running back Zonovan Knight said. “We were playing for the conference title and to be one of the top seeds in the 3A.”
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Knight, who is committed to N.C. State, became the schools all-time leader rusher in the third quarter, and scored the last touchdown of the game - a 6-yard run with 3:26 remaining - to put the contest away.
Rocky Mount rallied from being down 21-7 in the second quarter, scoring on their opening drive of the second half - a 7-yard run from Tashuan Lawrence - and tied the game at 21 after a 1-yard sneak from quarterback Jaquan Lynch. The score was setup by a 49-yard run to the 1-yard line by Antwain Dunston. Rocky Mount made Knight pay for putting the ball on the ground, but the home team wasted little time retaking control of the contest.
On the ensuing drive, Knight took his first touch 40-yards to Rocky Mount territory. That was the run that gave him the school record, but it was Quinton Coley who would punch it in from 30-yards out, putting the Firebirds up 28-21 with 51.5 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
In the fourth, facing a 4th and 1, Lynch lost the ball on the sneak attempt and it was recovered by Armando Dellavalle on the Rocky Mount 33. A few plays later Knight reached paydirt and Jason Vick ended any hopes of a Gryphon miracle comeback, picking off a pass to end the game.
“We have great respect for Rocky Mount and I think they respect us,” Southern Nash head coach Brian Foster said. “It’s been great games the last two years. Winning is winning, it’s just the next game, but I’m glad we won it.”
Early on the game was all Firebirds as Daylon Whitley gave Southern Nash the first score of the day with a 5-yard run with 2:05 remaining in the first. The Firebirds went up 14-0 after Matt Foster connected with tight end Jackson Thornton on a 9-yard touchdown pass with 7:35 remaining in the second quarter.
The Gryphons finally came alive with Lawrence broke free for a 35-yard score. But Cooley countered by scoring the first of his two touchdowns, this one from 7-yards out, giving Southern Nash a 21-7 advantage at the break.
HOLLY SPRINGS 21 MIDDLE CREEK 14
The Holly Springs Golden Eagles pulled away in the second half Thursday night to leave Middle Creek with a 21-14 upset victory over the Mustangs.
The teams came into Thursday night’s match-up in a three-way tie atop the South Wake conference, along with the Garner Trojans. All three teams are slated to play each other in the season’s final weeks, with tonight’s game being the first match-up.
Garner, meanwhile, rolled to a 49-7 rout of Apex. The Trojans will face both Holly Springs and Middle Creek in the next two weeks, in games that will likely decide the regular season South Wake conference champion.
HERITAGE 16, ROLESVILLE 0
The Huskies took advantage of an early turnover by the Rams, and played spoiler on homecoming night, defeating Rolesville 16-0.
Huskies (8-1, 3-0) scored on a 14-yard run by Kemon Bloomfield to take advantage of a Rams’ fumble, and Ben Steele added a 42-yard field goal to give Heritage a 10-0 lead. Drake Thomas scored the final touchdown of the evening for the Huskies.
BROUGHTON 41, SANDERSON 35
Broughton and Sanderson more than made up for a low scoring first half, lighting up the scoreboard after the homecoming festivities as the Capitals held on for a 41-35 win over the Spartans.
Tied at 7 at the half, the two teams put up plenty of points after the break. Broughton opened the third quarter with a touchdown by Jakym Clark to take a 14-7 lead, and went up 21-7 after recovering a fumble and turning that into quick points. The Caps eventually took a 34-7 lead after scores by Kajuan Haywood and Clark, before the Spartans got on the board again.
The Spartans scored 21 unanswered to make it a one score game (34-28), before Broughton responded with a touchdown by Dabreyn Belfield.
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