Green Hope will play for the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference championship next week after the Falcons took down Apex 42-23 Friday night.
The Falcons won in large part to an explosive second quarter which saw them score three times.
Luke Massei threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Gretsch late in the half to cap a 28-10 halftime score. Massei completed 21 passes for 388 yards and connected with eight different receivers.
“Luke and these receivers have been together all year, and Gretsch, this was his first game back, made some phenomenal catches,” said Falcons coach Kwame Dixon.
Green Hope (8-2, 5-1 SWAC) remained in second place; they have a date with first place Panther Creek in the regular season finale next week.
Apex’s (5-5, 2-4) Isaiah Totten proved difficult to stop as he rushed for 188 yards on 25 carries and one score.
The Falcons knew the Cougars would provide a tough matchup even though the Cougars will not get to .500 play in the conference.
“We knew coming in that the Panther Creek game didn’t matter unless we won this game. Apex was the game we needed to focus on,” said Massei.
The Cougars had their only lead when Ben Foote hit a 40-yard field goal with four minutes left in the first quarter for the game’s first points.
But Massei had his first touchdown pass of the game after finding Bryce Dixon for a 36-yard score on their ensuing drive.
“It was a fun game for us,” said Massei. “We just got Daniel Gretsch back. We knew what plays we needed to run.”
Gretsch had five catches for 127 yards, including the touchdown.
The Cougars held tough in the second half. The defense provided a spark when Ian boyd had a 105-yard interception and returned it for a touchdown in the third quarter. But Apex were outscored 14-6 following the pick.
Though the Panther Creek game loomed over this Falcons team, coach Dixon knew his guys would have to focus on Apex.
“You’re always trying to concentrate on the game at hand,” said Dixon. “These kids are kids; they’re already thinking about the SWAC championship. All year we’ve been trying to be in position to make plays, be in position in the fourth quarter, and be in position for a conference championship.”