There’s just something about Garner football in November.
The Trojans, who backed into the playoffs on a two-game losing streak, traveled to Enloe, who were on a losing streak of their own at three games. Something had to give in the opening round of the NCHSAA 4AA playoffs, and it was Garner, veterans of the postseason, who came out on top, 42-21, over the Eagles, who were hosting a playoff game for the first time in school history.
“We just took a look at ourselves and played Trojan football,” Trojans head coach Thurman Leach said. “The kids were ready to play. It was a long week last week and we were ready to get that taste out of our mouth. It’s good to have a win against a quality opponent.”
Last week Garner (7-5) fell to Holly Springs, 24-14. With the season on the line the Trojans took a 21-13 lead to the locker room at halftime, and held the Eagles (8-4) off the board until late in the fourth quarter, dominating the second half and containing Enloe’s strong running game and senior Hamilton Moore.
Moore kept the Eagles in the game in the first half, tying the contest at 7 after a 3-yard run on fourth and goal. Moore’s touchdown was an answer to a 4-yard run from Daiveon Carrington on the opening drive of the game for the Trojans. The two teams would exchange passing touchdowns midway through the second - Nolan Mclean to Carrington for 75-yards and Jaeden Wortham to Khalil Harris for 30 yards - to make it a one-point (14-13) game. But Garner would sneak one more touchdown on the board before the half, this time Mclean finding Ahkee Vaughan for a 14-yard score with 43 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
That score capped off a four-play drive and gave the blue crew some momentum heading into intermission. Mclean would score on a pair of 1-yard runs in the third quarter to put the Trojans ahead 35-13, and that proved to be too much of an uphill battle for the Eagles, who connected on some pass plays, but looked out of sync most of the night trying to establish a passing game while playing catch up.
Playing with a lead made life easier for the Trojans.
“We just had to keep going,” Carrington said. “When we got our passing game right we knew we had them.”
Quinten Fowler picked off a Wortham pass to set up Garner’s final score - a 5-yard run by Derrick Alston with 46 seconds remaining, and Deandre Swain returned the ensuing kickoff 60-yards for a score for Enloe’s final touchdown of the 2018 season.
Garner advances to the second round, where they will travel to Wilmington for a contest against No. 2 seed Hoggard. Practicing on Thanksgiving is a proud tradition for the Trojans, who always seem to find their stride around the holidays.
“It’s really how we practice and come together,” Carrington said. “We don’t care (about the regular season), we forget about it, like our coach says, have a short memory.”
BROUGHTON 30, ROLESVILLE 6
Broughton went on the road and scored 30 unanswered to advance to the seond round of the NCHSAA playoffs with a 30-6 win over Rolesville.
The Rams scored early in the second quarter on a short run by Knigsley Nwachukwu, but the Caps got on a roll and never looked back, taking a 16-6 lead into the locker room at halftime. The first half highlights for Broughton included a pick-six for Que Robinson. The Caps got back in the scoring act in the fourth quarter, putting away Rolesville after a touchdown pass from Gordan Guest to Davis Clemmons and a run from Kajuan Haywood.
The Caps will take on Leesville Road next week in the second round.
CLEVELAND 36, NORTHERN GUILDFORD 0
The Rams high-powered offense was its usual self in the postseason, as the unit got an assist from the defense in a 36-0 shutout of Northern Guildford.
Cleveland jumped out to a 24-0 halftime lead, and scored one more in the third before advancing.
SOUTH VIEW 26, HERITAGE 21
South View edged out Heritage 26-21 in a game that went down to the wire. The Huskies led by one, 14-13, in the third after a Walker Harris touchdown pass to Kemon Bloomfield, but the Tigers scored on a fourth down play to take the lead for good, 19-14, with 8:35 remaining in the fourth.
South View took advantage of a Heritage turnover and converted it into points when Matthew Pemberton scored from 18-yards away for the Tigers final score. The Huskies scored with 4:33 remaining in the game to pull to within five, but South View came up with enough stops the rest of the way to secure the win.
The Tigers advance to the second round where they will take on South Central.