In a varsity football game that started on Friday and, due to inclement weather, ended on Monday, Harnett Central routed visiting Smithfield-Selma 42-0.
“We had a goal this week to open our offense up and prove, not to anybody else, but to ourselves that we’re an explosive offense,” said Harnett Central coach Matt Migliore. “I think we did a really good job of that. Our defense has been playing their butts off all year. We’ve been playing darn good defense. We wanted to prove to ourselves that we can score points and be explosive offensively. I think we mixed it up real well and were really effective with what we were trying to do.”
The win improves the Trojans’ record to 4-1 on the season, their best start since beginning the 2011 season 5-0.
“When there’s a change and new blood comes in, it’s hard for people to understand that things take time,” Migliore said. “We knew, as a coaching staff, there wouldn’t be an immediate switch we’d be able to flip. But we had a good idea coming into this year that we would probably make a turn and get things rolling in the right direction.”
Junior Jaden Bryant completed 7-of-10 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions, and ran for 12 yards and a touchdown on two carries, senior Brandon Booker ran for 98 yards and two touchdowns and senior Trevonne Williams had three receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown and returned a kick for a touchdown to lead Central.
Jackson Jones had three receptions for 56 yards. Devin Perry ran for 41 yards on seven carries. Jessie Billingsley had a 12-yard run. Tay’shawn Moore ran for 10 yards on three carries. Caleb Dupree had a nine-yard carry. Jaylan Burton ran for two yards on three carries. Everett Blake had a five-yard run and a five-yard reception. Liam Peebles was a perfect 6-for-6 kicking extra points.
The Spartans (1-4) were led by Clevonte Watson, who ran for 85 yards on 19 carries.
Defensively, Central held Smithfield-Selma to just 117 yards of offense, including a net loss of three yards passing, and forced three turnovers. Blake and Mike Watson each recovered a fumble and Billingsley had an interception.
The game started on Friday with Mike Watson stopping a fake punt in Smithfield-Selma territory. One play later, Bryant connected with Williams on a 32-yard touchdown.
After Watson stopped another fake punt on the ensuing drive, Central was facing third-and-eight at the Spartans’ 36-yard-line midway through the first quarter when lightning halted the game. After a delay of nearly an hour-and-a-half, the game was suspended until Monday.
When play resumed Monday, a 33-yard pass from Bryant to Jones led to a three-yard Booker touchdown run.
Early in the second quarter, Central fumbled, but took it right back on the next play when Blake recovered a Smithfield-Selma fumble. That led to another three-yard touchdown run from Booker.
Central added one more touchdown just before halftime on a 7-yard Bryant run.
The Trojans opened the second half with Williams returning the opening kickoff 83 yards for another touchdown.
Central’s last score came just over two minutes later on a 47-yard run from Booker, with Peebles’ extra point putting the continuously running clock rule into effect.
Harnett Central travels to unbeaten Midway (5-0) on Friday for a game rescheduled from Sept. 6 because of Hurricane Dorian.
“By my account and everything I know about Harnett Central over the last 10 or so years, it’s probably the biggest game this school has seen over the past 10 years or so,” Migliore said. “Our kids, they know it. They’re starting to feel it. We just spoke about it in the locker room for a minute. It’s a big week and it’s a tough transition playing a game on Monday and having to turn around and practice on Tuesday.”