Midway’s varsity football team remained unbeaten on the season with a 31-14 win over visiting Harnett Central on Friday.
“The guys are playing hard,” said Midway coach Cory Barnes. “I feel like we’re getting better every week. Defense stepped up big time tonight. They have a bunch of skill guys that can hurt you. Their quarterback’s big and athletic and he’s pretty doggone good. Coach (Matt) Migliore, he’s got them going in the right direction. We knew this was going to be a big week for us and big competition. But, overall, across the board we played well tonight. They took away some things that we like to do in the pass game and we were able to run the football and I think that ended up being the difference.”
The Raiders’ 6-0 start is the program’s best start since 2008. That year, Midway opened the season 7-0 and finished the season 12-2, including a trip to the third round of the 1-A state playoffs.
“I was expecting week to week we’d have a chance to compete,” Barnes said. “I’m content with where we are right now and I want us to keep getting better, because it keeps getting harder every week. We can’t take things lightly because we know the road ahead gets even harder. We want to be a playoff team and we’re, hopefully, trending in that direction.”
Senior Deantae Byrd ran for 177 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries to lead the Raiders.
“He’s a special kid, a special player,” Barnes said. “But you’ve got to give credit to the offensive line, too. Our offensive line, I’d take them over anybody. The kids work hard. They’re hard-nosed. They’re nasty in the trenches and I love that about them. And they take pride in it. I love Byrd. He can make the big play happen. But without the guys up front, he can’t get going.”
Wyatt Holland was 4-of-12 passing for 35 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions, and ran for 40 yards on 10 carries. Cameron Barefoot had two receptions for 19 yards. Juan Pablo Luna ran for 15 yards on five carries. Thornton Baggett had a 10-yard reception. Lane Baggett had a six-yard touchdown reception. Isaiah McClendon ran for three yards on two carries. Junior Acosta was a perfect 4-for-4 kicking extra points and kicked a 30-yard field goal.
Junior Jaden Bryant completed 14-of-24 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions, and ran for 35 yards on 12 carries. enioSr Everett Blake had six receptions for 76 yards and ran for three yards on three carries for the Trojans (4-2).
Kha’lil Cameron had a 32-yard reception. Jackson Jones had three receptions for 26 yards. Trevonne Williams had two receptions for 22 yards and a touchdown. Devin Perry ran for 19 yards and a touchdown on six carries. Marquez Jones had a 15-yard reception. Brandon Booker ran for 10 yards on four carries and had a 10-yard reception. Liam Peebles made both of his extra point attempts.
Penalties were a costly factor for the Trojans, as Central was flagged 11 times for a total of 86 yards while Midway was penalized only twice for a total of 10 yards.
The game opened with Midway kicking off, but Tyler Godwin recovered the kick to give the Raiders the ball. But Central held Midway to a 30-yard Acosta field goal.
Midway found the end zone for the first time late in the first quarter on a six-yard Byrd run.
Adding to the Trojans’ penalty woes, early in the second quarter, Central’s Jackson Holland was ejected for a flagrant personal foul.
Byrd added two more scores late in the second quarter. The first was a one-yard touchdown run and the second was an 11-yard scoring run just before halftime.
Midway’s last score came halfway through the third quarter when Wyatt Holland connected with Lane Baggett on a six-yard touchdown pass.
Central got on the board late in the third when Williams caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Bryant.
The last score of the game came late in the fourth on a five-yard run from Perry.
Both teams begin conference play on the road on Friday. Harnett Central is at Tri-County Six 3-A Conference foe Union Pines (4-2) and Midway travels to East Central 2-A Conference opponent James Kenan (5-1).