Visiting Westover’s defense stalled All American 3-A/4-A Conference opponent Triton’s offense in the second half as the Wolverines rallied to win 33-27 on the Hawks’ Homecoming on Friday night.
“We were having some problems up front (on offense),” said Triton coach Ben Penny. “We don’t know what it was. When we get a lead like that, we have to be able to move the chains and keep the clock rolling and we weren’t able to do that. We’ve got to look at the film and we’ve got to get better moving forward. We liked our gameplan. We had a good week of practice. Unfortunately, before the injuries, what it came down to was us just not being able to move the sticks on offense. Our defense was out there a lot tonight and did all they could and I’m proud of them. But it’s just unfortunate we weren’t able to run between the tackles. That’s what we do well.”
Junior Jalen Evans was 2-of-5 passing for 67 yards and a touchdown and ran for 11 yards on four carries and sophomore J.J. Cowan had two receptions for 50 yards and ran for 34 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries to lead the Hawks (1-4, 1-1 AAC).
James Shaw had a 40-yard touchdown reception. Camauri McDougald ran for 10 yards on four carries. Hayden Pope had a 23-yard pass completion. Brandon Watts ran for 15 yards on nine carries. Ja’Quavis Jackson and Eligah Holmes ran for two yards apiece. Carter Daughtry was a perfect 2-for-2 kicking field goals and 3-for-3 kicking extra points.
Evans, the starting quarterback, and McDougald, who is one of Triton’s top running backs and Evans’ backup on offense and a big contributor on defense, both left the game with injuries.
“When Camauri went down there in the first half, we were very limited in what we could do,” Penny said. “The way that they come hard, we felt like Camauri was going to be able to have a big night running our counters. Once that was taken out of the gameplan, we had to try to adjust. And then when Jalen came out, we just weren’t prepared for that, Camauri being our primary backup. And when we got Hayden out there, we tried to mix things up a bit. Hayden can throw the ball when he’s got time. He’s got a pretty live arm. It just didn’t work out for us.”
Junior Joshua Jones completed 12-of-21 passes for 207 yards and four touchdowns, with one interception, and ran for three yards and senior Kaivaughn Spence had seven receptions for 104 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 56 yards on 11 carries to lead the Wolverines (4-0, 2-0).
Westover scored within the first minute of play on a 69-yard Jones to Spence pass. The extra point was good.
Triton took advantage of several short fields to respond with 17 unanswered points. A stop on fourth-and-short in Westover territory led to a 13-yard Cowan touchdown run, a bad snap on a Westover punt led to a 25-yard Cowan touchdown run and a McDougald interception led to a 29-yard Daughtry field goal.
“It gave us some mojo,” Penny said. “A little bit of fire. And we were able to hit some big plays. We were just doing some good things there.”
Westover answered with Jones connecting with Joel McLaurin for a 23-yard touchdown, but Antoine Mosley blocked the extra point.
Triton scored again when Evans completed a 40-yard touchdown to Shaw.
Westover scored within the final minute of the first half on 52-yard Jones to McLaurin pass, but the conversion attempt failed.
A 39-yard Daughtry field goal gave Triton a 27-19 lead going into halftime.
Midway through the third, Jones connected with Spence for a touchdown on a fourth-and-goal play, but Shyheim Cooke denied the Wolverines from tying the game by intercepting Jones’ pass on the conversion attempt.
Westover took advantage of a special teams miscue to score the go-ahead touchdown. Twan Anderson recovered a bad snap on a Triton punt in the end zone for a score and Jones completed to Jamari Stallion for two.
Triton is at conference and Harnett County rival Western Harnett (1-5, 0-3) and Westover is at home against conference opponent Overhills (1-3, 1-1) on Friday.
“We’ve got to get better up front,” Penny said. “We’re kind of Jekyll and Hyde a little bit. We come out one night and play very well up front. Two weeks ago, we had nearly 500 yards rushing (in a 37-34 win over E.E. Smith). And then tonight against a very similar football team, as far as athletes, though they were better on the defensive line. But we’ve got to fix that. Western is a team you can’t overlook because they are very physical on defense. We’ve seen that in games on film and in the Jamboree. We’ve got to get better there and we’ve got to figure out how to play 48 minutes injury free.”