Triton’s varsity football team started hot on Senior Night against visiting All American 3-A/4-A Conference opponent Pine Forest on Friday, but the Trojans scored 49 unanswered points to win 49-21.
“We’ve got a lot of young kids and we’re playing a lot of kids both ways and we’ve been off for a week-and-a-half,” said Triton offensive coordinator David Weathersby, who took on head coaching responsibilities with coach Ben Penny out with pneumonia. “We came out ready to play. Sometimes injuries get us. It’s something we’ve been dealing with all season. But I’m proud of the effort. We’ve just got to get some more kids to step up.”
Sophomore J.J. Cowan ran for 149 yards on 16 carries and returned an interception for a touchdown to lead the Hawks (1-5, 1-2 AAC).
Brandon Watts ran for 33 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. Camauri McDougald ran for 32 yards and a touchdown on four carries. Treyshaun Ellis-Eastman ran for 26 yards on four carries. Jalen Evans was 2-of-8 passing for 20 yards and ran for 16 yards on three carries. Ja’Quavis Jackson ran for 20 yards on four carries. James Shaw had a 20-yard reception. A.J. Dewar ran for 10 yards on four carries. Eligah Holmes ran for five yards.
Senior Keyshun Taylor was 5-of-10 passing for 113 yards and a touchdown, with one interception, and ran for 151 yards and three touchdowns on eight carries, junior Zarron Jetter ran for 129 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries and freshman Latrell Carter ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries to lead the Trojans (6-1, 4-0).
Prior to the game, Triton honored 13 seniors: Ja’Quavis Jackson, Hayden Pope, KaRon Kirk, Jayden Giles, Treyshaun Ellis-Eastman, Brandon Watts, Skylar Webb, Tanner Campbell, Malik McNeill, Jalon Crenshaw, Antoine Mosley, Noah Jackson and Avery Chumley.
“It’s special for me, because I came here four years ago and this is the freshman class I came in with,” Weathersby said. “That offensive line has been together for four years. We’ve got guys all over the place that have showed leadership and heart. I hate for them that their Senior Night had to go like this, but they played their hearts out, a lot of them with nicks and bruises. And I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
The Hawks took the ball down the field on the game’s opening possession and scored on a two-yard Watts run. Carter Daughtry kicked the extra point.
On the ensuing drive, Triton forced Pine Forest to punt, which Nate McKoy blocked and recovered to give the Hawks good field position. That led to a three-yard McDougald touchdown run. Daughtry added the extra point.
Pine Forest moved the ball into the red zone on the ensuing drive, but Cowan intercepted a pass and returned it 86 yards to the end zone. Daughtry added the extra point and the Hawks led 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.
But the lead would not hold up, as Pine Forest scored 49 unanswered points across the remainder of the game to take the win and remain unbeaten in conference play.
“They (made some adjustments) and we stopped executing a little bit and we got injured a little more,” Weathersby said.
Friday’s game was the first of five games, four of which are road games, in a 14-day span for Triton, as the Hawks have to make up postponed games at Terry Sanford and Western Harnett before the end of the regular season. Triton travels to conference opponent Terry Sanford (3-3, 2-1) on Tuesday.
“We’ve got a rough go of it, but it is what it is,” Weathersby said. “We can’t make excuses. We’ve still got a shot at the playoffs, but we’ve got to do something that not many other teams have to do. We can’t make excuses. We’ve just got to thrive with that. And we’re praying for coach Penny. His presence is missed and we hope that he’s well. That’s the important thing.”