South Johnston’s varsity football team improved to 2-0 on the season with a 33-20 win over visiting rival Triton on Friday night.
“I went through the process when I was here (as a player) and I never beat Triton,” said South Johnston coach Lee Webb. I” told them (the seniors) that when they finish this game, they need to have no regrets. All the seniors have stepped it up in practice and it’s big. I’m going to bring up last year’s seniors, even though we didn’t have many of them. To me, they’re part of this just as much as anyone else because they showed these guys that are seniors now how to lead. And (Triton) coach (Ben) Penny always does a great job with his team and we always expect it to come down to the last minute. Even though the score doesn’t show it, it was a tough game and they fought hard. I’m proud of our guys.”
The game was the season opener for Triton after the Hawks had to back out of their scrimmages and their first game of the season due to being in quarantine for COVID-19.
“We came out here with a lot of emotions,” said Triton coach Ben Penny. “We were ready to play football. And we came out here and went at it. We thought we had a good game plan. We just made mistakes that you’re going to make early on and when a team is coached like they’re coached, they’re going to take advantage of them. Hat’s off to them. Coach Webb is doing a great job. They found our weaknesses.”
Senior Paul Olive was 14-for-24 passing for 171 yards and a touchdown, with one interception, and ran for 44 yards on 12 carries and senior Brayden Barefoot ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries and had five receptions for 88 yards to lead the Trojans (2-0).
“Without the O-line, I couldn’t make those big plays,” Barefoot said. “And the wide receivers on the outside holding stop blocks. Without them, there are not big plays. And coach Lee has the trust in me to give me the ball and count on me to make those kind of plays.”
Jaydn McNeill had three receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown. Jyseim Wells ran for 16 yards and a touchdown on six carries and had a one-yard reception. Timothy Smith had two receptions for 12 yards. Jamarion Ward had a 10-yard reception. C.J. Redmond had an eight-yard reception.
Webb cited the play of South’s defense as a major factor in the win.
“We might have given up some big plays, but when we needed stops, they got them,” Webb said.
Junior Jalen Evans was 4-of-12 passing for 139 yards and a touchdown, with one interception, sophomore Camauri McDougald ran for 74 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries and sophomore J.J. Cowan ran for 37 yards on five carries and had a 65-yard reception to lead the Hawks (0-1).
Kaylon Foster had a 41-yard touchdown reception. James Shaw had two receptions for 33 yards. Malik McNeill ran for 25 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. Treyshaun Eastman ran for 11 yards on two carries. Brandon Watts had a two-yard carry.
After Triton fumbled on the opening possession, South capitalized with Barefoot scoring on a 10-yard run. Angel Rodriguez made the extra point attempt.
Triton responded on the following drive with McDougald running for a 25-yard touchdown. Carter Daughtry added the extra point.
South scored again with no time left in the first quarter on a three-yard Wells run. Rodriguez added the point after.
The Trojans added one more score in the first half on an eight-yard pass from Olive to Jaydn McNeill late in the second quarter. The extra point attempt was blocked.
Triton recovered a muff on the opening kickoff of the second half and Malik McNeill scored one play later on a four-yard run. Daughtry made the point after attempt.
With Triton punting out of its own end zone late in the third quarter, South blocked the punt and Lance Parker recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown. The extra point attempt missed.
Brayden Barefoot put the game out of reach with a 51-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter Rodriguez added the extra point.
Triton scored one final time on the ensuing possession when Evans connected with Foster for a 41-yard touchdown. The point after attempt was blocked.
Last season, Triton lost at home to South Johnston to drop to 0-2. The Hawks turned their season around after that loss, going 4-1 in their remaining game. Penny believes Triton can have a similar turnaround this season.
“I can promise everyone this, and this comes straight from the heart. This is not the real Triton football team,” Penny said. “We’re going to get back to work and we’re going to get back to where we need to be and you’re going to see the real Triton football team soon. We’ve been through this before. We’ve been through the whole thing. Very similar situation.”
South Johnston is at home against Southern Lee on Thursday. Triton is at home against Sanderson for the Spartans’ season opener on Friday.