South Johnston’s defense stifled visiting Western Harnett in a 38-10 nonconference varsity football win on Friday night.
“They’ve (South’s defense) played lights out for two weeks,” said South Johnston coach Matthew Riggsbee. “Franklinton did not score a touchdown on our defense (Franklinton’s lone touchdown was a defensive one in a 23-10 South win). Just a couple of weeks ago in that locker room after the Triton game (South lost 56-27 and gave up 480 yards of offense), we talked about what rock bottom felt like. And we felt like we were at rock bottom. And these boys are just so dog gone tough. What they’ve done, they’ve changed their process. They’ve changed how they practice. They’ve changed how they lift. They’ve changed how they treat each other. And that is the entire reason for the last two wins. And really, having that win against Franklinton, who was supposed to beat us, that’s just kind of catapulted our confidence to another level.”
Prior to the game, South Johnston had a ribbon cutting ceremony for its new field house. Former coach and athletic director Ronald Avery, the man whom the Trojans’ field is named for, did the honors of cutting the ribbon.
Junior Chase Carroll completed 9-of-14 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions, and ran for four yards on six carries to lead the Trojans (2-3).
Including Carroll, nine different players had carries for South Johnston. Jaequan Wells ran for 70 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Tony Faison ran for 67 yards on seven carries. Kysheem Green ran for 45 yards on seven carries. Damonte Burgess ran for 33 yards on five carries. Brayden Barefoot ran for 18 yards and a touchdown on four carries. Darius Lewis ran for 18 yards on three carries. Mikael Faircloth had a 13-yard carry. Keyshawn Sanders ran for 10 yards on two carries.
“We’re pleased with our stable right now,” Riggsbee said. “All of our backs, including our quarterbacks, have each other’s backs. They all know that when their number’s called, it’s their turn. When somebody else’s number’s called, they’re not selfish. And that’s important.”
Carroll completed passes to seven different players in the contest. Sanders had three receptions for 91 yards. Jayden Bailey had a 30-yard reception. C.J. Redmond had a 28-yard reception. Wells had an 18-yard reception. Barefoot had an 11-yard reception. Tony Alston had a seven-yard touchdown reception. Green had a four-yard reception.
Senior kicker Dylan Lambert was a perfect 5-for-5 on extra points and made a 27-yard field goal.
South Johnston’s defense held Western Harnett to just 121 yards of offense, including a net loss of eight rushing yards.
“I can’t be happier for our defense right now,” Riggsbee said. “That’s two weeks in a row holding two teams to little to no rushing yards.”
Junior Tristin Ung was 9-of-30 passing for 129 yards and a touchdown, with one interception, and senior Tyrese Jones had five receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown to lead the Eagles (2-3).
Misha’el Vines had two receptions for 21 yards and a two-yard carry. Kahlil McLean had an 11-yard reception. Elijah Bass ran for two yards and Daquan McNeill ran for one yard. Dillon Smith made his lone extra point and a 29-yard field goal.
Western muffed the opening kick return and Redmond recovered for South. Two plays later, Wells scored on a one-yard run.
After forcing a Western punt, South engineered a 96-yard drive, capped by a seven-yard touchdown pass from Carroll to Alston.
Early in the second quarter, South put three more points on the board on a 27-yard Lambert field goal.
A long kick return from Jae’sean Snipes on the ensuing kickoff put Western deep in South territory, but the Trojans held the Eagles to a 29-yard field goal from Smith.
South and Western exchanged touchdowns to start the second half, with the Trojans scoring on a three-yard Wells run and the Eagles scoring on a five-yard pass from Ung to Jones.
South fumbled in Western territory on the ensuing drive, but one play later, Ulissess Villalon returned an interception for a touchdown.
South added one more late score on a four-yard Barefoot run.
Western Harnett is at West Johnston (0-4) and South Johnston is at Wilson Hunt (3-1) on Friday night.