East Wake stung Wake Forest early and refused to go away, but Wake Forest scored three straight touchdowns in the second half to take a 27-18 win Friday night.
The Warriors did a lot of things well against the defending Eastern 4-AA champs, starting with the first play from scrimmage. Quarterback Tripp Harrington threw a lateral to Chris Ajagbawa who then launched a touchdown pass of 77 yards to Quincy Jackson. The Warriors led 6-0 after 17 seconds of gametime.
"They do a great job of getting me with something like that play every year," said Wake Forest coach Reggie Lucas. "What happened was we were in man, they throw the bubble, and everyone wants to run to the ball. Unfortunately instead of staying with his man that corner shot to the ball. It was a great call by them."
By halftime the Cougars tied the score 6-6 on a pair of Zach Coates field goals, including a 50-yarder on the final play of the half.
The Cougars then went on their run, with a little trickery of their own. On fourth and eight from the East Wake 38, Wake Forest went into punt formation. But the snap went to Ki'mon Small who threw a touchdown pass to Anthony Staley. Wake took the lead 13-6 with 9:08 left in the third period and never trailed again.
"Nobody was on the gunner and we've got a call for that," Lucas said. "We called the code out, the center got the call, and we hit it."
Wake then got an interception from senior Jesse Britt and just five plays later Jamal Sweet scored on an 8-yard run. The lead reached 27-6 on the first play of final period, a 14-yard run by quarterback Mack Moore.
"Penalties, turnovers, those have been the problems against teams like Wake Forest that just keep punching you in the mouth for four quarters," East Wake coach John Poulnott said. "Our defense stood up and we've played the wing-T fairly well over the years. I think we controlled Bryce Love (16 carries, 61 yards) to a degree. But they just keep punching until they find that crease."
Harrington (24 yards rushing, 227 passing) led his team to a pair of fourth quarter scores. He threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jackson and a 5-yarder to DeAndre Holmes. Wake's Small knocked down the pass attempt after the final score that could have cut the margin to 7.
"I thought Quincy had a great game at receiver and Tripp made some great decisions with his scrambling and finding time," Poulnott said.
Lucas noted the improvement in his young secondary, Small, Britt, Staley, Drew Brown, Tyler Thomas, and Darius Hodge,"They made some plays and gave up some plays, but in the key moments they were making plays."
"East Wake did a good job on Bryce and Matt Moore stepped up, not with his arm, but with his legs, tremendous game by him," Lucas said.