South Johnston routed visiting Johnston County rival Corinth Holders, 34-7, to open football season Friday.
“Defense played lights out,” said South Johnston coach Matt Riggsbee. “My hat is off to my defense. My hat is off to my defensive coordinator and the staff for the preparation that they had done. There were no surprises. That’s how good our defensive coaches are. We were prepared for almost anything.
“Offensively, I was glad we got a couple of passes off there, but we’ve really got to start throwing the ball better. We missed some opportunities and dropped some passes that would have been big first downs and things like that. I’m pleased with our running game. We’ve still got to polish up some things there, but we’ve got four or five running backs that can play. As long as I can keep them fresh and keep putting a new person out there, I think we’re going to be fine.”
Quarterback Josh Schindler completed 7-of-13 passes for 140 yards and one touchdown, with no interceptions, Jaequan Wells ran for 82 yards and a touchdown on nine carries and Jeffrey Hannah, Jr. ran for 81 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries to lead the Trojans (1-0).
Jawuan Smith had two receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown. Tony Faison ran for 24 yards on four carries. Heze Bailey ran for eight yards and a touchdown on six carries and had three receptions for 55 yards. Darius Lewis ran for three yards and a touchdown on four carries. Michael Robbins had a 17-yard reception. Joel Montero had a 14-yard reception. Keyshawn Sanders had a two-yard reception.
“I feel like we’ve got weapons all over the field,” Riggsbee said. “We’ve got to continue to build depth behind them because we are starting five guys on both sides of the ball and two or three of those guys play special teams, as well, so they never get a break.”
Defensively South held Corinth to 145 yards of total offense (South’s offense had 349 yards), including a net loss of one yard rushing, and forced five turnovers. Smith had an interception and Bailey, Lewis, Tony Alston and Levi Wiggins each recovered a fumble.
Riggsbee was not pleased with the 17 penalties, mostly pre-snap procedure violations, the Trojans racked up during the game.
“Biggest issue for me right now is the penalties,” Riggsbee said. “That’s ridiculous. That’s going to get us beat. The penalties that we’re getting are not effort penalties. It’s not like we’re blocking late or blocking in the back or holding or anything like that. We’re lining up wrong and jumping offsides. When we get tired, we get mentally weak and we’re forgetting the little things.
Cade Sakowski was 5-of-9 passing for 65 yards, Andrew Holtzclaw was 8-of-15 passing for 63 yards and Cole Canterbury had eight receptions for 84 yards to lead the Pirates (0-1).
After a scoreless first quarter, South got on the board early in the second when Hannah broke free for a 55-yard touchdown run, but the point after was blocked.
South scored again late in the quarter when Smith caught a screen pass from Schindler and took it 58 yards to the end zone. Bailey ran for two to make it 14-0.
Corinth threatened late, moving the ball inside South’s five-yard line. But the Trojans’ defense got the stop to end the first half.
With seconds remaining in the third quarter, Bailey took a direct snap and pushed into the end zone for a one-yard score. Alexis Arcia made the extra point.
Corinth’s Gabari Dobbins returned the ensuing kickoff to South’s 12-yard line on the final play of the third quarter. That led to Matt Cozart throwing a 12-yard touchdown to Walker Johnson for the Pirates’ lone score. The extra point was good.
Midway through the fourth, Heze Bailey recovered a fumble at midfield. That led to Wells scoring on a 23-yard run. The point after missed.
After a stop on the ensuing drive, Corinth snapped the ball over the punter’s head and Lewis recovered for South. Two plays later, he scored on a three-yard run. Dylan Lambert added the extra point.
After another stop, South was able to run out the clock.
South Johnston travels to South Granville on Friday.