A hot start set the tone early for Triton’s varsity football team as the Hawks routed visiting E.E. Smith, 45-13 in their All American 3-A/4-A Conference opener Friday.
“This E.E. Smith has athletes and they are very physical,” said Triton coach Ben Penny. “We told our guys, ‘They’re going to hit and they’re going to hit hard.’ Jumping up early was huge. We were able to go ahead and set the tone in the first two drives. It was just an overall team effort.”
Penny said the Hawks’ 28-14 loss at home against South Johnston on Aug. 25 served as a bit of a wakeup call for the team.
“We took that one to heart,” Penny said. “We learned a lot that week. We knew we were better than what we put out here on that week two. We came back and the captains said, ‘Coach, let’s do it old school. Let’s go to practice. Let’s get disciplined. We need to fix the things that cost us the win.’ We did that and we’re continuing to do it. We’re buying in. right now and I’m proud of them.”
Senior Camuari McDougald ran for 58 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries and had two receptions for 14 yards and a touchdown, senior J.J. Cowan ran for 50 yards on four carries and senior A.J. Dewar ran for 45 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries and returned a blocked punt for a touchdown to lead the Hawks (3-1, 1-0 AAC).
Senior Christian Siliezar was a perfect 6-for-6 kicking extra points and made his lone field goal attempt from 33 yards out. Penny said his kickoffs were also a major factor for the Hawks.
“You’re going to win a lot of games when you’ve got a kicker like Christian Siliezar putting the ball in the end zone (for touchbacks),” Penny said. “In high school football, field position is so important. And if he continues to do that, we’re going to have success this year.”
Alan Hinson completed 3-of-4 passes for 34 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions. Ahmad Morris ran for 29 yards on 10 carries and had a 20-yard reception. Malachi Harris-Daye ran for 12 yards on two carries. Jamarcus Shaw ran for three yards on two carries.
Junior Micah Barnes completed 8-of-21 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns, with three interceptions, and ran for 55 yards on 13 carries to lead the Golden Bulls (1-3, 0-1).
Penny was pleased with the play of Triton’s defense, including the Hawks winning the turnover battle 5-0, led by Davion Carroll’s two interceptions. R.J. Rosa returned an interception for a touchdown and K.J. Lockamy recovered a fumble.
“I’m beyond proud of how we’re playing defense so far this year,” Penny said. “We lost a lot on that defense (to graduation). When you lose Ross Stevens and you lose Nate McKoy and you lose those type of guys, and for guys that that haven’t had a lot of playing time or experience come up and buy into the system and play like they’re playing this year, I can’t say enough. Those guys are really stepping up.”
Triton put 21 points on the board in the first seven minutes of play. Cowan returned the opening kickoff 83 yards to the one-yard-line. That set up McDougald to punch it in on the next play. After a defensive stop, Triton scored again on a 9-yard Dewar run. And on the ensuing drive, Rosa returned an interception 43 yards for another touchdown.
Smith got on the board early in the second quarter on a 12-yard pass from Barnes to David Hickmond, but Jamal Shaw blocked the extra point attempt.
Midway through the second, Lockamy recovered a fumble that led to Dewar scoring on a 12-yard run.
Smith responded with Barnes connecting with Nishaun Campbell for a 93-yard score. Thomas Baus kicked the extra point.
Smith had a chance to score late in the half, but Carroll ripped a ball out of a receiver’s hands in the end zone for an interception. Triton took advantage of the extra possession by scoring on a 10-yard pass from Hinson to McDougald to lead 35-13 at halftime.
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Triton forced and recovered a fumble. The Hawks were stopped on fourth down, but held Smith on the ensuing drive and Dewar ran back a punt that was partially blocked by Shaw for a touchdown.
Triton’s final score came early in the fourth on a 33-yard Siliezar field goal.
Triton is at conference opponent Terry Sanford (2-2, 1-0) and E.E. Smith is at home against Overhills (0-4, 0-1) Friday.
“It’s going to be a heavyweight battle,” Penny said. “I think these are the two best teams in the conference right now. We’re going to be juiced up. We’re going to be fired up.”