An extra point by junior kicker Carter Daughtry accounted for the difference on the scoreboard when Triton’s varsity football team rallied in the second half to win 21-20 at All American 3-A/4-A Conference and Harnett County rival Overhills on the Jaguars’ Senior Night on Friday.
“It was a good feeling,” said Triton coach Ben Penny. “At halftime, we knew the difference was we weren’t making plays. We had opportunities to make several plays in the secondary and in our passing game. At halftime, we just challenged the guys to step up and start making some plays in the second half and they did it. I’m very proud of them.”
First-year Overhills coach Kerry Bacon said Triton made the key plays in the second half.
“Triton played a really good game,” Bacon said. “Hung in there. And they made the big play when they needed to and we didn’t. We were just trying to score. We were trying to take the ball out of their hands and keep the ball moving down the field. And we just didn’t accomplish our goal tonight. They did. We didn’t. Bottom line.”
Sophomore Camauri McDougald ran for 93 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries and had an interception on defense. Sophomore J.J. Cowan ran for 76 yards on 20 carries to lead the Hawks (2-6, 2-3).
Also for Triton, Jalen Evans was 4-of-9 passing for 27 yards, with one interception, and ran for 13 yards and a touchdown on five carries. Eligah Holmes ran for 23 yards on five carries. Brandon Watts ran for 21 yards on nine carries and had two receptions for 11 yards. James Shaw had a 17-yard reception. Daughtry was a perfect 3-for-3 kicking extra points. Kenny McKoy and Noah Jackson made one interception apiece.
Freshman Jordan Bryant completed 19-of-38 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns, with three interceptions, and ran for 14 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries to lead the Jaguars (3-5, 3-3). His top receiving targets were junior Isaiah Page, with two receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown, and junior Christian Daniel, with seven receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown. Daniel also had a fumble recovery on defense.
Nyjawun Pitts had six receptions for 66 yards. Justin Hobbs ran for 57 yards on 12 carries and had three receptions for 19 yards. Jabari Dowlen had a three-yard reception. Camryn Jones made an interception. Isaiah Oates kicked two extra points.
Bacon said the 10 penalties Overhills was called for, for a total of 85 yards, were a factor in the loss.
“We’ve got to cut out penalties,” Bacon said. “You can’t win games with penalties. You just can’t.”
Prior to the game, Overhills honored 14 seniors: Damien Robinson, Messiah Rowland, Justin Hobbs, Nyjawun Pitts, Jamar James, Hunter Berryhill, Zedakiah Hennion-Wilson, Avant Winters, Isaiah Oates, Jahmel Arnold, Benny Nena, Mikah Seals, Jaylen Campbell and Luke Murry.
“These guys, I love them,” Bacon said. “They’ve been great leaders. They’ve worked really hard. They sell out for the team. And they’re model kids. I love these guys. I wish I’d had them for four years. They’re all special to me. The guys on the team really respect the senior class and it’s really tough for them. They really wanted to win for the senior class on Senior Night.”
After stopping Overhills on the opening drive of the game, Triton got good field position because of a bad snap on a punt. But the Jaguars held the Hawks to a missed field goal attempt.
On the ensuing drive, a diving catch by Page put Overhills at the one-yard-line and Bryant ran it in one play later for the touchdown. Oates added the extra point.
The Jaguars scored again midway through the second quarter when Bryant connected with Page for a 60-yard score. But the extra point try was no good.
Late in the second quarter, McDougald made an interception for Triton, Jones made an interception for Overhills and Kenny McKoy made an interception for Triton, all within a span of four plays. Daniel looked to have made another pick, but lost the ball when he was tackled and it was ruled that he had not completed the catch. Instead, Triton capitalized with Evans running for an 11-yard score, followed by a Daughtry extra point, to put the Hawks on the board just before halftime.
Triton fumbled on the opening possession and it was recovered by Daniel, who also scored on the ensuing drive on a 24-yard pass from Bryant. Oates made the extra point.
The game’s turning point came late in the third quarter. Overhills had pinned Triton back to its own four-yard-line, but the Hawks took the ball 96 yards, scoring on a 72-yard McDougald run. Daughtry made the extra point.
“You can’t make a mistake against that type of offense,” Bacon said. “A big run can always pop off at any time.”
“We’ve been in situations all year long to prepare us for that,” Penny said. “When we got in the position where it was 20-14, I told the guys, ‘We’re right where we need to be.’ And they believed. It was them. They believed.”
Late in the fourth, a leaping catch by Shaw put the Hawks on the one-yard-line, where McDougald punched it in one play later. Daughtry’s extra point gave Triton the lead with 3:49 left in the game.
Penny praised Daughtry, long snapper Wyatt Avery and holder Jackson Lanier for their execution on the decisive play.
“Carter came through and has gotten better this season on every kick,” Penny said. “And then Wyatt Avery comes through in the clutch on the extra point. Never short snapped before. Just started long snapping two weeks ago. Perfect snap. Him, Jackson and Carter. That was huge.”
After the teams exchanged punts, Overhills had one last chance with just over one minute left in the game. The Jaguars had one last play at the Triton 43-yard-line with six seconds left to play. But Bryant’s Hail Mary pass was knocked down by Cowan as time expired.
Triton faces two more conference and county rivals next week. The Hawks travel to Western Harnett (2-6, 2-3) on Tuesday to make up a game postponed from Oct. 8 due to Triton quarantining for COVID-19 before hosting Harnett Central (2-6, 2-4) to end the regular season on Friday.
“We told them Tuesday night after the Terry Sanford game (a 40-28 loss), ‘Guys, the Lord’s blessed us with something to play for right now,’” Penny said. “A lot of teams in our situation have nothing to play for. We’ve got a Harnett County championship to play for. And they stepped up. Our backs are against the wall. When you play five games in 15 days with a young football team, there’s nothing to do but strap it on and play.”
Overhills is at conference leader Pine Forest (8-1, 6-0) to end the regular season on Friday.
“We’ve still got an opportunity to make the playoffs,” Bacon said. “We’ve got to go to Pine Forest next week and sharpen some things up and play some Jag football next week.”