Nothing is supposed to be easy in rivalry high school football games. West Johnston and South Johnston proved that again Friday night in a game that came down to the final snaps.
South, ranked eighth in The N&O area poll, held on fourth down inside of its own 10-yard line to preserve a 17-13 victory over West on Friday night.
The Trojans (2-0), up 17-13, appeared to have put the game away when Chandler Johnson intercepted a West pass near midfield with just over two minutes to play, but the Wildcats (1-1) recovered a bad snap on the next play to get the ball back at midfield.
“Both sides played so hard, trying to do sometimes too much at times, I think, because of the all-out effort the kids were giving,” said South Johnston coach Hunter Jenks. “I think we were both playing so hard that we didn’t execute like we have the potential to.
“It was just so fitting that it came down to the end. I think we won on a play like that in 2010 (the hook and lateral) and it almost helped them win tonight. We’re so fortunate to get out of here with a win.”
West drove to the South 20 and got a pass interference penalty in the end zone to keep its drive alive in the final 40 seconds, but on fourth-and-3 at the 10, South forced a quick throw by Wildcats quarterback Andre Wilson that fell incomplete.
Down by 10 with less than five minutes to play, West closed to 17-13 when Wilson dropped a pass in the flat to Deandre Blevins that Blevins flipped to Jake Strickland who covered the final 24 yards for a West TD with 3 minutes, 35 seconds to play. The 2-point conversion attempt failed, but West forced the three-and-out that led to the possession that ended quickly with Johnson’s pick.
South Johnston held a 10-7 lead for most of the second half, finally adding to it on a 16-play drive that ended when Landon Lockamy hit Sharod Bailey on a 11-yard slant pass with 10:13 to play. Lockamy, who split time with Deparis Patterson at quarterback, was 12-of-14 for 90 yards on the night.
Yovani Herrera put the Trojans up 10-7 with a 43-yard field goal at the end of the first half.
South Johnston opened the game’s scoring when Kavante Johnson busted off a 35-yard run on the Trojans’ second possession of the night.
West countered with a Tony Mack-powered touchdown drive midway through the second quarter. Mack totaled 49 yards on the drive and scored from a yard out to get the Wildcats even at 7 after Cristian Torres’ extra-point kick.
Mack had 91 yards on 14 carries and Johnson went for 81 on 18 carries for South Johnston on a night that lacked big offensive performances.
Both teams were held to less than 300 yards of total offense.