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After rough week, roller-coaster season, Knightdale ends on a high note

As the Knightdale football team walked to its end zone to celebrate a 31-28 win over Wakefield, the song “All I Do Is Win” by DJ Khaled blasted over the speakers.

At the chorus of the song, the artist repeats “Up down, up down, up down.” That part comes right before the hook, but the phrase could easily describe the type of season the Knights have had. It could describe the week Knightdale has been through and serves as a perfect description of their game against the Wolverines.

If any team needed something good to happen on the last Friday of the regular season, it was Knightdale. Earlier this week, one of the assistant coaches for the football team brought some bad press to the program when an Instagram video was released showing John Hoskins, who is white, making a racial slur.

The story made headlines not only in North Carolina, but all across the country. Hoskins resigned earlier in the week, but with all the outside noise, it would have been easy for the team to become distracted.

“It’s not just everything this week,” Knightdale coach Anthony Timmons said. “It’s been a trying season, but these guys are resilient. This is a great group of guys. This is a great family, a great team. We are all together as one. It paid off.”

The Knights started the season 5-0, one of the hottest teams in the area, before hitting a rough patch. They went winless in October, dropping to 5-4, before picking up an overtime win over Corinth Holders last week. Now they are 2-0 in November, the time when you want to be playing your best, heading into the playoffs, which start next week.

Knightdale had to overcome a 14-0 hole in the first quarter, but came back and tied the score in the second quarter after a pair of touchdowns from Brandon Ricks. The Knights led 21-20 at the break, but gave up a score on the Wolverines’ first drive of the second half. That would be the only touchdown Knightdale would give up the rest of the way.

The Knights would get a 26-yard field goal to midway through the fourth, and a game-winning touchdown run from Nickilli Muhammad from 2 yards out with 4:10 remaining. But there was still plenty of drama remaining. Knightdale forced a Wakefield punt but fumbled the ball right back to the Wolverines on the return. Kyle Anderson recovered for Wakefield, putting the ball back in the hands of dangerous quarterback Trexler Ivey with 2:52 remaining. On the first play, Ivey was picked off by Dax Hardy.

Knightdale was still unable to run out the remaining time, but the defensive line got after Ivey, who was unable to advance the ball on the last possession.

“Our defensive line took the game over,” Timmons said. “I’m a firm believer that the game is won in the trenches.”

Timmons said this win was for the entire community.

“This win was for us,” Timmons said. “And this win and effort was for the Knightdale school and the Knightdale population as a whole.”

RECORDS: Knightdale (7-4, 2-3), Wakefield (5-6, 1-4)

THREE WHO MATTERED

Aeneas Peebles, Knightdale: The 6-2, 240 pound defensive tackle, who is committed to Duke, came alive in the fourth quarter when the game mattered the most. Peebles had three sacks in the fourth quarter.

“When the fourth quarter lights come on, I’m just a different animal,” Peebles said. “I just show out in the fourth, it’s just something about the crowd and the environment.”

Wakefield had no answer for Peebles once he made his mind up he was going to get after the passer.

“I just go out there and play my best,” Peebles said. “I just went out there and did my job and played for my teammates.”

Dax Hardy, Knightdale: The junior was all over the field for the Knights. Hardy started the season at quarterback and even threw a touchdown pass in the first half. But he also lined up at wide receiver, punted and played defensive back, picking off a pass late in the fourth.

“Dax’s nickname is Swiss Army knife,” Simmons said. “The young man can do about anything.”

When Knightdale couldn’t run out the clock, Hardy punted the ball 42 yards to set up the Wolverines inside their own 20.

Brett Poirier, Knightdale: Poitier, the kicker, was a perfect 4-for-4 on extra points, hit a 26-yard field goal and even recovered a fumble on a kickoff.

WORTH MENTIONING

  • It was senior night at Knightdale and Timmons took time to shout out the class of 2020.

“This senior class has been with me all four years,” Timmons said. “And they’ve got the best record.”

  • Nickilli Muhammad was all over the field just as much as Hardy. The 6-1, 223 pound senior blocked an extra point in the first half, then scored on a 2-yard run in the fourth.

SCORING SUMMARY

W — Trexler Ivey 24-yard pass to Will Lohr (Brady Elms kick)

W — Ivey 1-yard run (Elms kick)

K — Camron Spellman 20-yard pass to Brandon Ricks (Poirier kick)

K — Ricks 8-yard run (Poirier kids)

W — Juwan Bunch 1-yard run (kick blocked)

K — Dax Hardy 22-yard pass to Kameron Davis (Poirier kick)

K — Poirier 26-yard kick

K — Nickilli Muhammad 2-yard run (Poirier kick)

FRIDAY SCOREBOARD

Cardinal Gibbons 52, Enloe 10

Rolesville 49, Corinth Holders 12

Garner 28, Apex Friendship 10

Jordan 24, Green Hope 3

Holly Springs 20, Hillside 12

Fuquay-Varina 28, Middle Creek 26

Millbrook 20, Broughton 13

Northern Durham 56, Northwood 14

Riverside 14, Panther Creek 7

Sanderson 37, Southeast Raleigh 0

East Wake 52, Smithfield Selma 0

Apex 50, South Garner 20

Cleveland 62, South Johnston 7

Knightdale 31, Wakefield 28

Sports reporter Jonas Pope IV covers college recruiting, high school sports, NC Central and the ACC for the Herald-Sun and The News & Observer.
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